Illinois Enacts Law Requiring Food Manufacturers to Label for Sesame

Sesame Seeds

On July 26, Governor JB Pritzker signed General Assembly Bill 2123 requiring all packaged foods sold in the state to indicate the presence of sesame when it is an ingredient of the products.

Within the state, sesame joins the “Top 8” allergens (peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, and crustacean shellfish) which are federally mandated by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004 to be disclosed on the label when they are ingredient of the products.

The FALCPA Top 8 has accounted for over 90% of documented food allergens in the US. Allergy to sesame has been rising and now occupies the ninth spot, affecting an estimated 0.2% of the population. The FDA is currently considering adding sesame to Top 8.

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State Representative Jonathan Carroll, whose daughter suffers from sesame allergy, sponsored the legislation. He said a mishap occurred at a restaurant which made him realize the need for more transparency.

“We asked specifically if there was sesame in there and they said no,” Carroll said. “And then on the bun was sesame seeds.”

Canada and the European Union already require sesame disclosure on packaged foods. As manufacturers generally package products for national distribution, it is likely many will adopt sesame labeling in advance of an update to FALCPA, but that presents a problem: many outside Illinois will assume sesame will be labeled for when there will in fact be no federal requirement to do so.

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As a reminder of the danger of sesame exposure to those allergic, in 2016, 15 year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse ate a sandwich she had purchased at Pret A Manger shop at Heathrow, the label for which made no reference to sesame, to which Natasha was allergic. She suffered anaphylaxis aboard a British Airways flight to Nice and was pronounced dead upon her arrival at a local hospital there.

We at SnackSafely.com applaud the Illinois initiative and urge the FDA to follow suit quickly. In the meantime, readers are invited to use our Allergence product screening service which discloses how sesame and 10 other allergens are processed during the manufacture of 2000+ products from 117 manufacturers including shared line and facility information.

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