Sesame Allergen Labeling Expands in UK, US
Allergen labeling grabbed headlines in the United Kingdom in 2019 as the country faced pressure from consumers concerned that prepackaged foods lacked mandated ingredient disclosures. Following the 2016 death of a teenager who consumed a premade sandwich packaged without notification of potential exposure to sesame, the U.K. Food Standards Agency launched a public consultation that resulted in the announcement of “Natasha’s Law.” Under the law, which will take effect in October 2021, restaurants and other food-service entities will be required to provide a full listing of ingredients on prepackaged food.
In the United States, sesame is not an allergen that requires labeling, although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested comments on the allergy’s prevalence and severity in 2018. The New York Times called current U.S. regulations incomplete in January, and an August NPR article compared the two systems and found awareness of allergies in the United States lacking. Following the efforts of a state representative who has a daughter with a sesame allergy, Illinois passed a law requiring sesame to be labeled on food packages in August. “If they see us do it, the hope is that everyone does it,” the state representative reportedly said. “I hope that the FDA and other states will follow suit.”