President Biden signed a bill into law on Friday designating sesame as the 9th major food allergy and increasing allergy testing, enacting a bipartisan effort to counter the alarming rise of some deadly allergies.
The Senate passed the Food Allergy Protection, Treatment, Education, and Research (Faster) Act in March, and the House of Representatives passed it this month.
Children Affected by Allergies
According to research, childhood food allergies have steadily increased in prevalence over the last two decades, increasing by about 4% per year to affect 32 million Americans.
Around $24.8 billion is the amount that is borne by American families for medical bills, special foods, and time away from full-time work to care for a child with a food allergy.
According to Jonathan Spergel, chief of the allergies department at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, there are several compelling explanations for the increase.
Still, one stands out: In 2000, a small study found that delaying the introduction of potentially allergenic foods reduced the likelihood of children developing allergies.
The advice was incorrect, with subsequent research demonstrating the exact opposite: Early, the cautious introduction of these foods reduces the risk of severe allergy.
However, the damage had been done, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, parenting publications, and parents themselves advocated for delaying the introduction of these potentially dangerous foods.
Despite the compelling new evidence, a 2020 survey of pediatricians discovered that only 29% were implementing early allergen introduction.
The New Legislation
The law was enacted at the time to improve the health and safety of Americans who suffer from food allergies and related disorders, such as:
- potentially fatal anaphylaxis
- food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome
- eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases, and many more
Sesame will join peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, dairy, eggs, and wheat as members of the so-called “Big Nine” allergens that account for roughly 90% of food allergy reactions.
The other significant component of this legislation is establishing a risk-based scientific process and framework for adding new allergens.
That is significant because there is currently no standard for the number of people who must have a severe reaction for it to be added to a label.
There will be a system in place that enables doctors and patients to comprehend precisely how something increases in prevalence.
New Dietary Guidelines for the United States
Since 1980, the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture have issued dietary guidelines for Americans every five years but have remained silent on infants and toddlers until 2020.
The 2020 guidelines included three paragraphs directed to parents to introduce infants to potentially allergenic foods, e.g., peanuts, at six months; to try and delay the introduction of potentially allergenic foods, such as cow’s milk; and similar substances, to infant formula, with solids at one year.
By January 2023, the new law will require clear labeling of foods containing sesame.
The Department of Health and Human Services will be required to prioritize regular reviews of promising food allergy treatments and research that will be included in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The guidelines establish the framework for school lunch and food assistance programs and frequently guide manufacturers interested in participating in the $100 billion programs.
Previously published dietary guidelines did not include recommendations for the inclusion of allergenic foods.
Editor’s Note on Sesame Being the 9th Major Allergen:
This article is published to inform you of the new law that designates sesame as part of the major allergens in the USA.
Are you or anyone in your family allergic to sesame? How do you discover allergen labeling on food? Kindly inform by clicking the ‘Contact Us’ button below.
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