Statement of CSPI deputy director of regulatory affairs Sarah Sorscher

It’s hard to imagine picking up a packaged food that contains peanuts or shellfish and not seeing the familiar declaration on the label that identifies those allergens. Yet consumers who are allergic to sesame get no similar declaration. That’s why the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the Food and Drug Administration in 2014 to require sesame to be labeled in the same way as the “Big 8” allergens that must be disclosed on labels.

That was four years ago. In an announcement today, the FDA said that it will begin collecting information on the prevalence and severity of sesame allergies. While we welcome that step, the FDA already has the information it needs to move directly to a proposed rule requiring sesame labeling. Information CSPI has previously submitted to the agency establishes that sesame rivals major allergens in terms of severity and that sesame allergy is close in prevalence to the eight other allergens for which labeling is currently required.

We hope that the information submitted in response to today’s request will further emphasize the urgent need for the FDA to act quickly in requiring sesame labeling.

We encourage people who are allergic to sesame, and parents of children who are allergic to sesame, to offer comments to the FDA’s docket on our petition and to use CSPI’s survey form to report any allergic reactions caused by sesame-containing foods to the FDA.