Senate Dems urge FDA to issue labeling rule for sesame products

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 MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces White House eyes September action plan for gun proposals Trump phoned Democratic senator to talk gun control MORE (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Energy: Trump sparks new fight over endangered species protections | States sue over repeal of Obama power plant rules | Interior changes rules for ethics watchdogs To cash in on innovation, remove market barriers for advanced energy technologies Democrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections 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.