Pro Tip: Be Prepared for Sesame Labeling on Food Products

Pro tip: AIB details what bakers need to know about sesame labeling in 2023.

Sesame can be found in flavors, colors, incidental additives, condiments and spices. In the baking industry, it is common to find the seeds on breads, rolls, bagels, crackers and cakes. It is now a major food allergen in the United States, and its presence must be declared on a label with the word “sesame.”

To comply with the Food Allergy, Treatment, Education and Research Act (FASTER Act), food manufacturers must clearly label sesame in any form on their products by January 1. 2023.

In preparation for this change, here are some critical points that will soon come into effect:

  1. The word sesame must be declared in the list of ingredients and/or a statement “contains” which accompanies it.
  2. FASTER Act requirements apply to foods containing sesame introduced or delivered in interstate commerce on or after January 1, 2023.
  3. Labeling sesame as an allergen will also need to meet all existing allergen labeling requirements under FD&A Section 403(w).
  4. Packaged foods and supplements that contain sesame or a sesame-derived ingredient will need to declare sesame as a major allergen on the label.
  5. Labels listing tahini as an ingredient must also include the declaration of sesame in parentheses; for example, tahini (sesame), or in a “contains” statement.
  6. Under section 403(w), highly refined oils are exempt from the definition of “major food allergen”. If not highly refined, sesame oil is considered allergenic.
  7. Manufacturers of food products using sesame as an ingredient must follow cGMPs to avoid cross-contact with allergens.
  8. The FSMA also requires that a food allergen be checked if it is identified as a hazard, which is now sesame. Therefore, manufacturers must implement procedures, practices and processes that minimize or prevent cross-contact between allergens during storage, handling and use of the allergen, and ensure that the food finished is properly labeled.

Elaine Meloan is a Director at AIB International.