Food allergies affect 85 million Americans and their families. Finding joy and pleasure in food can oftentimes become an anxiety ridden experience for those who suffer from severe food allergies or food hypersensitivities. Fortunately, policies like the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act of 2021 (S. 578) will offer families more confidence and assurance by requiring that sesame be added as the ninth major food allergen on food product packaging.
Advocates in the food allergy community have been working diligently to promote the FASTER Act in U.S. Congress. On April 14, 2021, it did just that and on April 23, 2021 it arrived at the White House for President Biden's signature. With this legislation, beginning January 2023, food manufacturers will be legally obligated to include sesame on the label as a major food allergen. Sesame will join the existing eight common food allergens: wheat, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and soybean.
The FASTER Act legislation was championed by Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA-6) and Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10). It has been the primary legislative priority for FARE, the world's leading non-governmental organization engaged in food allergy advocacy and research.
In addition to revising the classification of sesame as a major allergen, the FASTER Act bill directs the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to expand food allergy research efforts.
Many advocates suggest that this is the most impactful food allergy related bill of the last decade. Prior to this, the U.S. Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act back in 2004, which formally identified the existing eight common food allergens.
Changes in public policy oftentimes require patience, but the millions of families impacted by severe sesame allergies may take comfort in knowing that protective measures are being made to keep them safe.
For more information about the Food Allergy Research & Education's work accelerating the FASTER Act, visit their website to learn more.