In one of the biggest health policy changes to impact North American consumers, sesame has been declared the ninth major food allergen by new legislation – the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, and Research (FASTER) Act.

Food safety inspection specialist Fortress Technology examines how the FASTER Act (S. 578/H.R.1202) provides food processors with an opportunity to review their entire contamination and sanitation policies and good manufacturing practices.

For the global food allergen community, sesame has long been a concern. Affecting over one million people in the United States according to AAFA[i], by January 1, 2023, manufacturers of packaged food must, by Federal law, clearly list sesame as an allergen in its own right. Current practice often includes listing sesame within generic ‘natural flavor’ or ‘natural spices’ labels.

All food and beverage manufacturers have a responsibility to identify allergens that are contained in their products. This responsibility extends to isolating them from other non-allergen products processed in the same facility.

Sesame is a common ingredient in many food types, especially Asian cuisine, dips, vegetable burgers, breadsticks, burger buns, as well as a seasoning or flavoring in snacks, cereals and chips.

If a dedicated line for foods containing sesame cannot be allocated, for example on bakery lines, a common tactic might be to create planning production schedules to isolate products containing sesame. Storage of ingredients should also be separated. Additionally, cleaning must go well beyond normal hygienic requirements. Even where heat processing is involved, allergens of any type can still survive high temperatures.

Allergen product residues can be especially troublesome to eliminate in gravity metal detection systems used to inspect powders, ingredients and snack foods. Additionally, pipeline systems used to process sauces, tahini or dips containing sesame oils and other spices can be challenging and time consuming to dismantle and sanitize.

To help reduce to risk of allergen and pathogen cross contamination, Fortress recently launched a range of easy clean, quick release rejects and innovative conveyor options to speed up maintenance and sanitation tasks.

For more information visit

[i] the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America