Senate Dems urge FDA to issue labeling rule for sesame products

Greg Nash

Senate Democrats are calling on the Obama administration to issue a mandatory labeling rule for products that contain sesame or sesame seeds.

In a letter to the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday, Sens. Chris MurphyChris MurphyThe Hill's 12:30 Report GOP wins congressional baseball game, ending 7-year losing streak Overnight Regulation: Obama signs chemical safety overhaul MORE (D-Conn.), Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalElizabeth Warren joins House Dems' sit-in Democrats stage sit-in on House floor to push for gun vote Dems blast Republicans after failed gun votes MORE (D-Conn.) and Edward MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Healthcare: GOP plan marks new phase in ObamaCare fight Overnight Healthcare: Dems trying to force Zika vote | White House tries to stall opioids bill for $$ | Free Lyft rides from ObamaCare Overnight Healthcare: New momentum to lift ban on gay men donating blood MORE (D-Mass.) said the agency should “move expeditiously under its authority” and issue a labeling rule to help protect the health and safety of consumers, given the severity and growing prevalence of sesame allergies.  

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“Without required uniform labeling of the presence of sesame, consumers with this serious allergy have no way of protecting themselves or their family members from its potentially life-threatening consequences,” their letter said. "As Congress recognized when it passed FALCPA (the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004), accurate and comprehensive allergen labeling is essential.”

FALCPA does explicitly regulate sesame that's included in processed food as an allergen. In products, the lawmakers said, sesame is often listed under unfamiliar names like “tahini” and “gingelly” and is sometimes not identified as a component of spices or natural flavors.

According to the Laura MacCleery, chief regulatory affairs attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, several hundred thousand Americans are allergic to sesame, and their allergies are no less serious or life-threatening than an allergy to peanuts or shellfish.