On April 14, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research Act of 2021 (FASTER Act of 2021) that would add sesame to the definition of "major food allergen." The bill passed the Senate in early March and now heads to President Biden's desk for his signature.
Under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA), packaged food labels are required to declare the presence of any "major food allergens." Until the FASTER Act of 2021, FALCPA required disclosure of the following eight major food allergens on packaged food labels: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans.
With the FASTER Act, packaged food labels will additionally be required to declare the presence of sesame. Packaged foods introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce on or after January 1, 2023, must comply with this updated food allergen labeling requirement.
The FASTER Act of 2021 also requires the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to submit a report to Congress on various food allergen issues, including providing specific recommendations for the development and implementation of a regulatory process to allow modifications to the definition of "major food allergen."
FALCPA did not give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to develop regulations related to food allergens, thus, under existing law, it takes an act of Congress to modify the definition of "major food allergen." This portion of the report suggests Congress may delegate such authority to FDA.