Sesame Allergy

Sesame Allergy

Sesame is one of the 10 most common childhood food allergies, and severe reactions are common among affected children, according to The National Institute of Health.(1) Currently, the FDA is considering adding sesame to the list of allergens that must be disclosed on food labels.(1)

More than 160 foods have been identified to cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, according to the FDA.(2) The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, passed into law in 2004, requires that the eight major ingredients that cause allergic reactions be disclosed on food labels. These eight allergies account for over 90 percent of all documented food allergies, according to the FDA.(2) The allergens that must be disclosed on labels include: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.(2)

Currently, since sesame is not listed as a major allergen, it may not be specifically listed in an ingredient statement. “Products with ‘natural flavors’ or ‘spices’ listed on their label may contain small amounts of sesame,” the FDA reports.(2) Another example, provided by the FDA, is that “tahini” may be included on an ingredient list, and consumers may not realize tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds.(2)

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that 2 percent of children in the U.S. are allergic to sesame. This percentage approaches the prevalence of well-known allergens such as soy.(3) “Approximately four in five sesame-allergic patients have additional food allergies.”(3)

(1) National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH Researchers Estimate 17 percent of Food-Allergic Children Have Sesame Allergy, (2) Warren, C. PhD, Chadha, A., et. al., Journal of the American Medical Association, Prevalence and Severity of Sesame Allergy in the United States, (3) American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Sesame Now the Ninth Most Common Food Allergy in the United States,