Sesame is a small but mighty seed that has been enjoyed for centuries in cuisines around the world. However, in recent years, it has become a major allergen for many people. In fact, as of January 1st, 2023, sesame is officially the ninth major allergen under the FASTER Act. Sesame allergies affect approximately 0.23% of the US population, and with food allergies on the rise, we expect this number to increase in the coming years.
Why the Increase in Sesame Allergies?
One reason for the increase in sesame allergies is that it is used in a wide variety of products, from bread and crackers to hummus and salad dressings. This means that people may be consuming sesame without even realizing it. Additionally, sesame is often used as a substitute for other allergens, such as peanuts, making it even more difficult for people with sesame allergies to avoid.
Symptoms of a sesame allergy can range from mild to severe, including hives, itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing. In some cases, a sesame allergy can even lead to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction.
What Is the FASTER Act?
The FASTER Act, or Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research Act, is a federal law that was signed into effect in 2021 to address the growing public health concern of food allergies. The Act aims to increase awareness and education about food allergies, improve access to treatments, and support research to find a cure.
One of the key provisions of the FASTER Act is the requirement for food manufacturers to clearly label the presence of the top nine allergens, which include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybeans, and sesame. This will make it easier for individuals with food allergies to identify and avoid allergens in their food.
The Act also provides funding for food allergy research, including studies on the causes of food allergies, the development of new treatments, and the creation of a national food allergy surveillance system. This research is critical to understanding and addressing the growing problem of food allergies.
Another important aspect of the FASTER Act is the requirement for schools to have a plan in place to address the needs of students with food allergies. This includes training for school staff, emergency anaphylaxis protocols, and epinephrine auto-injectors’ availability.
The Act also includes provisions to improve access to treatments for food allergies, including epinephrine auto-injectors and oral immunotherapy. This will make it easier for individuals with food allergies to manage their condition and live their lives with greater confidence and safety.
The FASTER Act is a crucial step forward in addressing the growing public health concern of food allergies. By increasing awareness and education, improving access to treatments, and supporting research, the Act aims to improve the lives of individuals with food allergies and help find a cure. It’s a significant step to help people with food allergies live with greater safety and confidence.
How to Manage Sesame Allergy
To manage a sesame allergy, it is important to read food labels carefully and avoid products that contain sesame or may have been processed in a facility that also processes sesame. It is also important to carry an epinephrine auto-injector and inform friends, family, and caregivers about the allergy. If you need a food allergy action plan, book an appointment with NY Allergy & Sinus Centers.
Despite the challenges that sesame allergies present, there are still many delicious foods that can be enjoyed. There are a variety of alternative ingredients that can be used in place of sesame, such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds. With careful attention to ingredient labels and a willingness to experiment with new ingredients, it is possible to continue enjoying a wide variety of foods while managing a sesame allergy.
Now that sesame is a major food allergen, it’s important for people to be aware of this and take the necessary precautions to avoid it. With awareness and proper management, people with sesame allergies can still enjoy a varied and delicious diet.