The bill (H.R. 1202) – one of a handful of bills to be signed into law by President Biden during his first 100 days in office – expands the definition of major food allergen to specifically include sesame, making it the ninth major food allergen (joining peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, dairy, eggs, and wheat) to be added to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) since 2004.
Under the new law, food manufactures would be required to have “plain-language labeling” of sesame on packaged food – which is often unclearly labeled as “natural flavors” or “natural spices."
“This bill provides a much-needed update to allergen labeling laws to include sesame, which affects the over 1.5 million people allergic to sesame. Additionally, the bill will enable us to better treat the millions of Americans that suffer from life-threatening food allergies by requiring the Secretary of Health and Human Services to regularly review promising food allergy treatments and research,” said Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10).
Because of the bill’s broader focus on food allergy research, FARE states that the new law would benefit a much wider audience – the 85 million Americans affected by food allergies and intolerances. As part of the law, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must prioritize and report on information related to food allergy research (including treatment and prevention methods, and new cures) and data collection activities to identify additional major food allergens.
The legislation also establishes a risk-based scientific process and framework for establishing additional allergens covered by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.
What criteria the risk-based framework and process for establishing new food allergens would include is still unclear. A FARE spokesperson told this publication, "We're looking forward to the Secretary's report, which will among other things, create a process and framework for establishing new allergens in the future."