Pro Tip: AIB breaks down what bakers need to know about labeling for sesame in 2023.

Sesame can be found in flavoring, coloring, incidental additives, condiments and spices. In the baking industry, it is common to find the seeds on top of breads, buns, bagels, crackers and cakes. It is now a major food allergen in the US, and its presence must be declared on a label with the word “sesame.”

To comply with the Food Allergy, Treatment, Education and Research Act (FASTER Act), food manufacturers must clearly label sesame in any form on their products by January 1, 2023.

In preparation for this change, here are some critical points that will take effect soon:

  1. The word sesame must be declared in the ingredients list and/or an accompanying “contains” statement.
  2. The requirements of the FASTER Act apply to foods containing sesame introduced or delivered into interstate commerce on or after January 1, 2023.
  3. The labeling of sesame as an allergen will also have to meet all existing allergen labeling requirements in Section 403(w) of the FD&A Act.
  4. Packaged foods and supplements that contain sesame or an ingredient derived from sesame will have to declare sesame as a major allergen on the label.
  5. Labels listing tahini as an ingredient must also include the sesame declaration in parenthesis; for example, tahini (sesame), or in a “contains” statement.
  6. Under section 403(w), highly refined oils are exempt from the definition of a “major food allergen." If not highly refined, sesame oil is considered allergenic.
  7. Food manufacturers using sesame as an ingredient must follow cGMP to prevent allergen cross-contact.
  8. FSMA also requires that a food allergen be controlled if it is identified as a hazard, which sesame is now. Consequently, manufacturers must implement procedures, practices and processes that minimize or prevent cross-contact between allergens during storage, handling and use of the allergen, and ensure the finished food is properly labeled.

Elaine Meloan is a manager at AIB International.