FASTER Law Adds Sesame as Major Food Allergen

April 27, 2021By Karin F.R. Moore & Riëtte van Laack

On Friday April 23, President Biden signed into law the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research (FASTER) Act that designates sesame as the ninth major food allergen.  The first eight major allergens – peanuts, tree nuts, fish, Crustacean shellfish, soy, milk, eggs, and wheat – were designated major allergens with the passage of the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) in 2004.  The FASTER law requires foods containing sesame to be clearly labeled on products entering interstate commerce on January 1, 2023, and directs the Department of Health and Human Services to prioritize regular reviews of promising food allergy treatments and research, which will help identify new allergens to be designated number 10 and beyond.

Specifically, the FASTER Act amends section 201(qq)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA), and makes sesame subject to FDCA requirements for major food allergens, including labeling disclosure, and cGMP and preventive controls requirements for allergen control.

This Law has been a long time coming.  As we reported (here and here), proposals related to sesame allergen labeling have been introduced in Congress on several occasion. Then in 2019 Illinois enacted a law that required sesame allergen labeling.  In addition, FDA had been petitioned to issue regulations to declare sesame a major allergen and released a draft guidance which strongly encouraged companies to voluntarily declare sesame as an allergen, and recommended disclosure of the presence of any sesame derived ingredients in spices and flavorings.