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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 MurphyCongress set for chaotic year-end sprint Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Edward MarkeyEd MarkeyUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally 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.