FDA Advises Manufacturers to Label Food Products Containing Sesame

Category : Health

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. allergen / ˈæl ər dʒən / (n) – any substance that causes an allergic reaction

    I wear a face mask outside to avoid breathing in allergens in the spring.

  2. prevalence / ˈprɛv ə ləns / (n) – the condition of being widespread

    There’s a prevalence of fake news on the internet, so we should be careful what we believe.

  3. outgrow / ˌaʊtˈgroʊ / (v) – to stop having interest in or doing something as one grows older or matures

    I will never outgrow my love for snow.

  4. hives / haɪvz / (n) – a skin condition in which the skin becomes red and itchy due to an allergy

    Hives appeared all over his arms after eating shrimp.

  5. weigh in / weɪ ɪn / (phrasal) – to give an opinion about something

    Everyone weighed in on the decision during the meeting.


Read the text below.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising manufacturers to declare sesame on labels of all food products that contain it.

Under current FDA guidelines, manufacturers are not required to include sesame on the label if it is used as flavoring or if it is made into a paste. Only products that use whole sesame seeds are required to show the ingredient on the label.

The proposal is meant to help warn people who are allergic to sesame. Currently, manufacturers only need to label eight major food allergens on products, specifically milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.

The FDA’s call to put sesame on labels follows a request it issued two years ago. The agency wanted more information regarding the prevalence and severity of sesame allergies in the United States so it could determine whether or not sesame should be considered a major food allergen.

Data showed that nearly one million Americans are allergic to sesame. Its exact prevalence is still unknown, but previous studies estimate that sesame allergies are almost as common as fish and soy allergies.

Researchers said that compared to milk and egg allergies that people often outgrow, a sesame allergy affects children and adults in the same way. Its symptoms include hives, vomiting, redness, and itchiness around the lips. In severe cases, it can lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause a sudden decrease in blood pressure and difficulty in breathing.

Several experts have weighed in on the FDA recommendation. Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a medical correspondent to an American news station, said that the agency’s recommendation is a step toward raising awareness about sesame allergies. Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), a non-profit group dedicated to food allergies, agrees that sesame must be declared on labels and that the FDA should recognize it as a major food allergen.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What do you think will be the advantages of labeling sesame on food products? Discuss.
• Do you think manufacturers should have strict penalties for improperly labeling food products? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• How can people with food allergies avoid accidentally eating food they’re allergic to (e.g. read labels carefully, research)? Discuss.
• Do you think it’s possible for everyone to avoid their allergens (e.g. dairy, pollen from flowers and trees)? Why or why not?

Category : Health