The New Food Allergen

Food Allergies have become more prevalent over the past 20 years. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 32 million people have food allergies in the U.S. Currently, the FDA recognizes the following as the eight major food allergens: eggs, milk, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and wheat. However, a ninth food allergen will be added to this list effective January 1, 2023, that allergen is sesame. Did you know it has been 16 years since the FDA added a food allergen to the list?


Sesame is a seed that stems from the sesame plant and is grown in the foxglove-like flowers that grow from the plant, and these flower pods open when the seeds mature. Sesame can be found in various items other than food such as cosmetics, medications, nutritional supplements, perfumes, and pet food. Symptoms of sesame allergy are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing/hoarse voice, and redness in the face/swelling. They can also range from mild to severe, such as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is when the immune system causes a release of chemicals in the body, causing the airways to narrow, making it difficult to breathe. If someone has food allergies, an epinephrine injection (epi-pen) should be carried with the individual and is the primary treatment for anaphylaxis.


Until this law goes into effect, food manufacturers are not required to warn consumers that sesame is in a product. However, if you think yourself or someone you know is allergic to sesame, try to avoid consumption of foods with these items in the ingredients list:


  •     Benne, benne seed, benniseed
  •     Gingelly, gingelly oil
  •     Gomasio (sesame salt)
  •     Halvah
  •     Sesame flour
  •     Sesame Oil
  •     Sesame paste
  •     Sesame salt
  •     Sesame seed
  •     Sesamol
  •     Sesamum indicum
  •     Sesemolina
  •     Sim sim
  •     Tahini, Tahina, Tehina


Sesame may also be in spices and flavoring blends. If you cannot tell if an item has sesame in it, call the manufacturer. Foods that may contain sesame:


  •     Asian cuisine (sesame oil is commonly used)
  •     Baked goods (bagels, bread, hamburger buns)
  •     Bread crumbs
  •     Cereals (granola and muesli)
  •     Chips (pita chips, tortilla chips)
  •     Dressings, marinades, gravies, and sauces
  •     Falafel
  •     Hummus
  •     Flavored ice, noodles, risotto, shish kebabs, stews, and stir fry
  •     Goma-dofu (Japanese dessert)
  •     Herbs and herbal drinks
  •     Margarine
  •     Pasteli (Greek yogurt)
  •     Processed meats and sausages
  •     Protein and energy bars
  •     Snack foods (pretzels, candy, Japanese snack mix and rice cakes)
  •     Soups
  •     Sushi
  •     Tempeh
  •     Turkish cake
  •     Vegetarian burgers 


Whether you are allergic to sesame or not, now you know that sesame will be the newest allergen and you can use this information for yourself or inform others with your newfound knowledge!