CSPI Celebrates Passage of the FASTER Act Declaring Sesame a Major Food Allergen
Statement of CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie
Yesterday, April 14, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, and Research Act (FASTER Act, H.R. 1202), following the passage of the Senate version, S. 578 last month. The Act adds sesame as the 9th “major” food allergen required to be labeled on foods in the United States, marking the first time the “major” allergen list has been updated since Congress created the list in 2004. Manufacturers will have until January 1, 2023 to comply by ensuring that sesame is always declared on food labels when present.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest was the first organization to call for sesame to be labeled, petitioning the FDA in November 2014 to extend similar allergen disclosure requirements to sesame as were already provided for the “major” allergens.
CSPI fought for years for the FDA to require labeling for sesame under the agency’s authority to label additional allergens beyond the “major” allergens list. Our advocacy has been grounded in emerging science demonstrating that the prevalence and severity of sesame allergy warranted labeling protections on par with the original major allergens.
CSPI welcomes the FASTER Act, and thanks Representatives Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) for their steadfast leadership on this bill and support for food allergen labeling work at the FDA. We also thank Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) for their work as co-sponsors in the Senate, with particular thanks to Senator Murphy for his early and consistent leadership calling on the FDA to grant CSPI’s sesame labeling petition.
We are also grateful to other food allergy organizations, including Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), and the thousands of individual consumers who fought for years to secure this groundbreaking victory for allergen labeling.
Eight years is too long to have waited for basic disclosures for an allergen that affects more than a million Americans, frequently causing severe and even life-threatening reactions. CSPI calls on the FDA to develop an evidence-based process using its existing authorities to regularly update the list of priority allergens required to be labeled in the United States based on the latest science.