CHICAGO (AP) — A new Illinois law aimed at protecting adults and children with sesame allergies has drawn concern from critics who argue the measure is giving families a false sense of safety.
Sesame allergies are becoming progressively common and severe.
Earlier this year, Illinois passed a law requiring all food manufacturers to declare foods that contain sesame on their labels. But certain companies may not be following that law, raising concerns for those with sesame allergies, WLS-TV reported.
Alexandra Bradley, 14, faces several food restrictions that include allergies to dairy, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame, and has experienced numerous reactions over the years.
Amanda Bradley, the Chicago teen’s mother, learned Alexandra had severe food allergies when she was just 4 months old. She said sesame has been the toughest allergen to manage.
“So, we started realizing when we were grocery shopping it was a whole new ballgame,” Amanda Bradley said.
A recent study shows that more than 1.5 million Americans have a sesame allergy.
Sesame falls just below the top eight allergens in the U.S., but despite its quick growth, food manufacturers were not required to label sesame on their products.
The Bradleys said it’s been an uphill battle, forcing them to avoid many foods out of fear they may contain sesame. And months after the sesame labeling bill passed, the Bradleys said they have not noticed a change in labeling
“Now that this law has passed, I’m afraid people will just assume that this law is being followed,” Amanda Bradley said. “We need to know that we can go in the grocery store and trust those products.”
The Food and Drug Administration said they have the authority to require labeling of allergens, such as sesame.
But Illinois State Rep. Jonathan Carroll, co-sponsor of the measure, said the FDA has not made it any easier to enforce the law. Carroll, whose daughter is also allergic to sesame, noted that is why the bill is significant.
“We can’t have another food allergy attack. We can’t have someone else get sick while the FDA is having hearings and looking for public comment,” said Carroll. “This is a safety crisis. We have people that, if they ingest the wrong foods, will die.”
The FDA is reviewing public comment to better understand sesame allergies and people affected by it.
(This story was originally published on Nov. 28, 2019)