Sesame Allergen Update

AAMP Outreach Specialist Abbey Davidson provides an update on the new sesame allergen.

If suppliers, processors, and customers have not heard already, this article can serve as a notice that sesame is going to be included in the list of allergens, making “The Big 8” allergens, now “The Big 9.”  This change is a result of the piece of legislation called the “Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research” (FASTER) Act.

What this means for suppliers: if you supply a product with sesame in the formulation, please update your ingredient statement to reflect that change, and reach out to the customers who receive your product. Here is a draft letter:

Good [Morning/Afternoon],
This [letter/email] serves as a notice that due to the FASTER Act signed into law on April 23, 2021, we are notifying you as a courtesy that the following items you purchase from our company contain sesame:

  • [PRODUCT 1]

  • [PRODUCT 2]

  • [PRODUCT 3]

Note that sesame will need to be identified in your product ingredient statement, and in the Allergen Declaration if you choose to have one (not required for meat products). Please reach out if there are any questions!
Thank you,

What this means for processors: sesame will be required to be on the ingredient statement if it isn't already. The exceptions are if sesame is not in the common name of the food, like tahini, or if sesame is inherent to a natural flavoring or spice. Note while this is not required, it will be a voluntary good industry practice to do so. Please note meat products are not required to have a “Contains” statement on their labels, but if processors choose to do so, then sesame must be included if sesame is in the product. For processors, if you do not hear from your spice companies and suppliers, it is recommended to reach out to your suppliers to gain this allergen-related knowledge. Additionally, since suppliers are not required to disclose if they change a formulation, it is good industry practice to reach out to the suppliers at least once a year (more often if you receive a higher volume of product) to identify an ingredient change.
In total, The "Big 9" Allergens will include milk, tree nuts, eggs, peanuts, fish, wheat, shellfish, soybeans, and now sesame. It is recommended to start this label change before January 1, 2023, which will be the date this legislative change goes into effect.