Study: Sesame Hidden on Food Labels

Feb. 17, 2022
Sesame will have to be declared as an allergen on food packaging starting next year, but it is severely under-identified on food labeling right now.

Sesame will have to be declared as an allergen on food packaging starting next year, but it is severely under-identified on food labeling right now, according to a new study.

The study, published in the medical journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, was based on the results of a survey administered to 327 individuals who had required medical treatment as a result of allergic reactions to sesame. Researchers examined the packaging of food products that the subjects identified as the source of those reactions. They found that about two-thirds of the allergic reactions had been caused by packaged food products – and of those products, less than half had the word “sesame” on their packaging.

Instead, many products used terms like “tahini” without disclosing that it is sesame paste, or even passed sesame off as a “spice.”

President Biden signed into law last year a law adding sesame to the list of allergens that must be declared on food packaging. It takes effect next Jan. 1.

“What we discovered in our study was that amongst those who reported events related to accidental ingestion of sesame, many reported they didn't know that words such as 'tahini' meant sesame," the senior author of the study said in a statement quoted by HealthDay News. "Because the word 'sesame' is often not used on labels, accidents happen at a greater rate."

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