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A New Law Is Adding This Popular Food To List of "Major Allergens"

Found in fast food, plant-based diets, and more, this common ingredient can cause "very severe" reactions.

It's a food that's found everywhere, from an old-fashioned hamburger to Italian restaurants and hummus. Now a new federal act insists that this unexpected food allergen must be labeled clearly as the ninth food that triggers allergies, with its ability to cause over a million Americans to react with difficulty breathing, hives, and more.

Last week, President Joe Biden signed the FASTER Act—standing for Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research. The Washington Post says the bill received bipartisan support when it was introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives earlier this year. The FASTER Act was developed to address the significant increase in child food allergies over the past 20 years. Today, 32 million Americans suffer from food allergies at a reported estimated cost to families of $24.8 million.

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While peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, dairy, eggs, and wheat have been considered the "big eight" food allergens, this new law will require that sesame must be clearly called out as well. The act calls for food manufacturers to label sesame as an allergen by January 2023.

It's reported that a sesame allergy affects 1.6 million Americans, while it's "added to so many things now," according to Tina Sindher, a clinical associate professor of allergy and asthma research at Stanford University. Sindher added that a sesame allergy is "another one that's hard to treat and reactions can be very severe."

For decades, sesame seeds have been a common topper to fast-food buns, some breads, and breadsticks, but some allergy experts suggest the uptick in sesame allergies in recent years might be attributed, at least in part, to the trend that more Americans have acquired international tastes these days. Foods like falafel, some noodle dishes, stir-fries, and salad dressings sometimes feature sesame as an ingredient. Meanwhile, they say in some (but not all) cases, the fact that children weren't introduced to these foods in their earliest years can cause allergic reactions which may include an itchy mouth, swelling, trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and others.

For more on food safety, don't miss This Food Is Becoming a Bigger Allergy than Nuts, Data Says.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy
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