The Hidden Dangers of Sesame: What You Need to Know About Sesame Allergies
FDA List Sesame Recognized As Major Food Allergin in The United States
As of January 1, sesame has been recognized as a major food allergen in the United States, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The change is the result of the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research Act (FASTER Act), which was signed into law in April 2021. The addition of sesame to the list of major food allergens means that foods containing sesame will now be subject to specific regulatory requirements related to allergen labeling and manufacturing.
Sesame allergies can affect individuals of all ages and can manifest as a range of symptoms including coughing, an itchy throat, vomiting, diarrhea, mouth rash, shortness of breath, wheezing, and drops in blood pressure. Prior to the FASTER Act, the FDA had recommended that food manufacturers voluntarily list sesame as an ingredient on food labels, but this guidance was not a requirement. Under previous regulations, sesame had to be declared on a label if whole seeds were used as an ingredient, but labeling was not required when sesame was used as a flavor or in a spice blend, or for products such as tahini, which is made from ground sesame paste.
The FDA will conduct inspections and sampling of food products to ensure that major food allergens are properly labeled and to prevent allergen cross-contact in food facilities. Some companies have already started the process of relabeling their products, but it could take several months for foods currently on shelves to be sold or removed. People with sesame allergies are advised to be cautious when eating certain foods, particularly in restaurants, and to see a specialist if they suspect they may be allergic to sesame.
Uses of Sesame Seeds in Global Cuisine
Sesame seeds have a long history of use in food and have been cultivated for thousands of years. The plant is native to Africa and is believed to have originated in the region that is now Sudan. Sesame seeds were used as a condiment and to extract oil in ancient civilizations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The seeds have a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and are used in a variety of dishes around the world.
One of the most well-known uses of sesame seeds is in the production of tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds. Tahini is a staple ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes, such as hummus, baba ghanoush, and falafel. Sesame seeds are also commonly used in Asian cuisine, particularly in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean dishes. In Japan, sesame seeds are often used to make goma-dofu, a dessert made from sesame seeds and water. In China, sesame seeds are used to make sesame paste and are also used as a topping for a variety of dishes, including baozi and congee.
Sesame seeds are also a popular ingredient in many baked goods. Sesame seed buns, or bao, are a common street food in China and are made with dough that is brushed with sesame oil and topped with sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are also used to make sesame crackers, or girisu, in Japan, and are used as a topping for various types of bread, including bagels and hamburger buns, in many parts of the world.
Sesame seeds are also used to make sesame oil, which is a common cooking oil in many parts of the world, particularly in Asia. Sesame oil has a strong, nutty flavor and is used in a variety of dishes, including stir-fries and marinades.
Other common foods that include sesame seeds include sesame chicken, a popular Chinese-American dish made with chicken coated in a sesame seed-based sauce, and halva, a sweet treat made from tahini and sugar that is popular in the Middle East and parts of Asia. Sesame seeds are also used as a topping for various types of salad, including tabbouleh, and are used to make sesame noodles, a popular dish in China.
In summary, sesame seeds have a long history of use in food and are used in a variety of dishes around the world. Common foods that include sesame seeds include tahini, sesame oil, sesame buns, sesame crackers, and various types of baked goods, as well as sesame chicken, halva, and sesame noodles.
Signs You Might Be Allergic To Sesame
Sesame allergies are relatively common and can affect individuals of all ages. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of sesame allergy, as sesame allergies can be severe and potentially life-threatening. If you suspect that you may be allergic to sesame, it is important to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
One of the most common signs of sesame allergy is the development of symptoms after consuming a food that contains sesame. These symptoms can vary in severity and may include:
- Skin reactions: Hives, redness, itching, or swelling of the skin may occur after consuming sesame or coming into contact with sesame seeds.
- Respiratory symptoms: Shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing may occur after consuming sesame or inhaling sesame dust or particles.
- Digestive symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach cramps may occur after consuming sesame.
- Cardiovascular symptoms: Rapid pulse, low blood pressure, or loss of consciousness may occur in severe cases of sesame allergy.
- Anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen. Symptoms may include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or tongue, and dizziness or fainting. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
If you have a sesame allergy, it is important to avoid consuming sesame and to be prepared for the possibility of accidental exposure. You should carry an epinephrine injector (also known as an EpiPen) at all times in case of an allergic reaction. You should also inform your healthcare provider, family, and friends about your allergy and how to recognize and manage an allergic reaction.
In conclusion, sesame allergies can cause a range of symptoms, including skin reactions, respiratory symptoms, digestive symptoms, cardiovascular symptoms, and anaphylaxis. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of sesame allergy and to avoid consuming sesame if you are allergic. If you suspect that you may be allergic to sesame, it is important to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Getting Tested For Food Allergies
Food allergies can be a serious health concern, and it is important to know if you are allergic to any particular foods. Allergy blood tests, also known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) tests, are a reliable and accurate way to determine if you have a food allergy. If you are experiencing symptoms that you believe may be related to a food allergy, it is important to consider getting an allergy blood test.
One of the benefits of allergy blood tests is that they can test for multiple allergens at once. For example, if you are experiencing symptoms that could be related to a variety of different foods, an allergy blood test can help identify which specific foods may be causing your symptoms. This can be especially helpful if you are unsure which foods may be causing your symptoms or if you have multiple food allergies.
Another advantage of allergy blood tests is that they are generally more accurate than skin prick tests. Skin prick tests can be affected by a variety of factors, such as medications that you are taking or your skin condition, which can affect the accuracy of the test. Allergy blood tests are not affected by these factors and are generally considered more reliable.
If you are interested in getting an allergy blood test, you can easily order one online through Walk-In Lab. You do not need a doctor’s note to order an allergy blood test panel; you can go to a local lab to get tested. Once you have completed the test, Walk-In Lab will send your results to you via email within a few days.
Don’t put off finding out if you have a food allergy. Getting an allergy blood test can help you identify any potential allergens and take steps to avoid them, helping you to live a healthier and more comfortable life. So if you are experiencing symptoms that may be related to a food allergy, consider getting an allergy blood test today.