Senate Passes Sesame Allergen Labeling Bill
On March 3, the US Senate passed S.578, the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act of 2021, which would add sesame to the list of 8 “major food allergens.” The bill would also require that the Secretary of Health and Human Services collect data on the prevalence of food allergies and make a report to Congress no later than 18 months after the date of enactment of the Act that outlines descriptions of ongoing federal activities related to the development of effective food allergy diagnostics, the prevention of food allergies, and the scientific criteria for defining a food or food ingredient as a “major food allergen,” among other requirements. The report would be made public on the Department of Health and Human Services’ website. If the bill becomes law, it would apply to any food introduced or delivered into interstate commerce on or after January 1, 2023.
In response to the bill, the food allergy advocacy group, FARE, commented that it “will save lives, provide transparency, eliminate fear and anxiety, and help reduce health care costs by eliminating some of the thousands of emergency room visits made each year by those suffering food allergies.”
S.578 was introduced in the Senate by Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). Its passage comes a week after Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA-6) and Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10) introduced the same bill in the House. A summary of the House bill (H.R.1202) is available here. Although we cannot confirm the outcome, it seems likely the House bill will also pass, and the bill will be signed into law by President Biden.