I have mentioned this before, but my son is severely allergic to sesame seeds. We found this out the hard way, after one small bite of hummus landed us in the ER. Unfortunately, companies do not have to label if sesame is an ingredient or cross contaminant in the US, so it’s time to petition the FDA to change that and add sesame to allergy labels!
Change.org had a petition not long ago asking for sesame to be labelled, and it received enough attention that the FDA is now soliciting for more information. The original petition has excellent resources and information, but in a nutshell: sesame seeds are estimated to be the number 9 allergy in the United States, and they are considered even higher in other parts of the world. Most other countries (including Canada, Israel, Australia and Europe) require that sesame seeds and shared equipment with sesame be labelled. Sesame allergies also have an extremely high likelihood of life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Now, as it stands here in the USA, companies can flat out refuse to tell you if a food is safe for sesame; even companies that are forthcoming don’t always label, or they’re only open during business hours, so it’s impossible to even verify if a new food is safe easily.
Here’s a good example: my son loves, loves, loves breakfast sausages. Costco sells Jones Dairy Farm sausages, as well as Jimmy Dean, in bulk, which is great when you have a kid chowing down on two a day. But in order to buy them for our son, I had to take pictures of the UPC labels and email both companies to verify the sausages were safe. Jones Dairy Farm answered me within a day reassuring me the sausages were safe. Jimmy Dean answered with a rambling “we are very careful about the Top 8 allergens” answer, and it took pestering them in a follow-up to verify their sausages were sesame-free. Neither company answered their email on weekends (not that I expected they would), but it meant we had to do a lot of extra homework. And that’s what we have to do for just about every new packaged food … you just never know what might not be safe! The biggest shocker? King Arthur Flour is at risk for sesame cross contamination!
So please, please, help us tell the FDA to add sesame as a top allergen. Imagine if every time you ate out, bought a package of food, or fed your child, you had to stop and worry “Is this safe?”
As a parent, there was nothing scarier than watching my son go from trying hummus to watching his entire face swell within moments. Literally, his reaction went from a hive to full on duck-lips inside of five minutes. It was terrifying!
You can check out the original petition to learn how to send your comments to the FDA asking them to require companies to add sesame to allergy labels; it will mean the world to my family and countless others!