U.S. sesame seed allergy cases rising

July 29, 2012 at 8:00 PM
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SANTA MONICA, Calif., July 29 (UPI) -- The most common allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, eggs, milk, fish and shellfish, but allergies to sesame seeds are on the rise, a U.S. expert says.

"A 2005 study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, named sesame allergy a 'significant, serious and growing problem,'" said Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, trend watcher and creator of supermarketguru.com. "It's the No. 3 allergen in Israel, where children are commonly fed nutritious sesame products for protein and iron. In Australia, it's considered the No. 4 biggest allergen, and Canada and the European Commission require sesame to be listed as an allergen on all food labels."

However, in the United States, sesame is not considered one of the top allergens and is not required to be declared on food labels posing.

One possible reason for the sesame allergy increase is that more Americans are eating more sesame products than before; research demonstrated the more common a food becomes in the every day diet, the more people will report an allergy, Lempert said.

"Today sesame is not just found on hamburger buns, but the growing popularity of hummus, falafel, granola, bread sticks, cookies, salad dressing, Asian noodles, some spices and flavorings has pushed sesame into our everyday eats," Lempert said.

It can also be found in unexpected places such as tomato sauce, hand cream and lipstick, Lempert said.

Since labeling is not required that allergic to sesame seeds should avoid: Benne/benne seed/benniseed, gomasio sesame salt, halvah, hummus, sesame oil, sesamol/sesamolina, sesamum indicum, sim sim, tahini and vegetable oil.

Topics: Phil Lempert
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