Sesame seeds are a common ingredient in the food industry. Yet, sesame seeds are a tremendously strong allergen and the prevalence of sesame seed allergy has been increasing in recent years.
Foods that often trigger reactions are those containing a vast amount of ground sesame seeds as an ingredient. While it belongs to the 14 allergens, which must be declared according to the EU Directive 2007/68/EC and regulation 1169/2011, sesame is not yet included in the list of major allergens, the so-called ‘Big 8’, in the US.
However, it is the ninth most common food allergy among children and adults in the U.S. and might be therefore added to this list of allergens, which must be declared in future. Therefore, sesame test is necessary.
- Sesame is also known as Benne, Gingelly, Til or Teel, Simsin and Anjonoli
- Sesame oil is used unrefined in food products and can cause allergic reactions
- Heating does not destroy the allergenicity of sesame; therefore, cooked food containing sesame cannot be regarded as safe
- Sesame seeds often become ‘electrostatic’, causing them to stick to charged surfaces such as other foods and clothing, which make it difficult to prevent cross-contamination
Typical foods containing sesame seeds:
- Hummus, tahini and halvah – these common sesame products are sometimes added to other foods without any clear declaration
- bakery products
- confection bars
- dips, sauces,
- sausages & processed meats,
- stir fry dishes
Regions/countries with mandatory disclosure of sesame in pre-packed foods:
- European Union
- Australia/ New Zealand
- Hong Kong