Bakers must prepare for new sesame allergen labeling regulations
LAS VEGAS — Ever since the federal law that made sesame the ninth major allergen in 2021, Nathan Mirdamadi, senior food safety specialist, Commercial Food Sanitation/Intralox, has felt almost like the boy that’s been crying wolf. He’s been trying to raise awareness of the law that will require bakeries and food manufacturers to declare sesame as an allergen on the labeling of packaged foods starting January 2023 and supporting efforts at multiple companies to prepare for that date.
“One of my struggles is getting bakers to understand that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will see sesame just like they see peanuts,” he said. “Bakers tend to see harmless sesame seeds, but the FDA is going to look at that bun like it’s covered in peanuts, and they’re not going to look lightly on it.”
During his IBIEducate session on “Lessons Learned While Addressing Sesame Seed at Commercial Bakeries,” Mr. Mirdamadi outlined the impact of the law and how the FDA will require that facilities have preventive controls in place to minimize the risk of undeclared food allergens.
He said allergen cleaning for sesame can require a significant amount of scheduled downtime. As a result, bakeries are exploring labeling issues, such as labeling all their products made in facilities that use sesame. However, that leaves some affected consumers and their families with fewer choices in the market, and bakers should explore all options.
One of my struggles is getting bakers to understand that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will see sesame just like they see peanuts. Bakers tend to see harmless sesame seeds, but the FDA is going to look at that bun like it’s covered in peanuts, and they’re not going to look lightly on it.
“What I learned is that the bakeries aren’t ready,” he said. “Most of them are looking for labeling and formulation solutions, and I can appreciate how difficult the challenge is for them. Bakers are going to want to make sanitation changeovers as quickly as possible. I would be working with all my vendors to see how they could help me make that possible."