President Joseph R. Biden recently signed into law a new food allergy bill requiring that sesame – to which nearly 1.6 million Americans are allergic – be labelled on all packaged foods beginning January 1, 2023 and that food allergy research be given greater priority by the federal government.
"The President's signing today of the FASTER Act is a major victory for the entire food allergy community across the nation," said Lisa Gable, Chief Executive Officer of FARE. "I cannot thank President Biden enough, along with the thousands of food allergy champions who made today a reality, most notably Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA-06), and Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10) who garnered overwhelming support for this bill in Congress. It was because of our champions and advocates that the FASTER Act was introduced, passed and signed into law during President Biden's first 100 days in office."
Passage of the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research (FASTER) Act of 2021 has been the highest legislative priority for FARE, the world's leading non-governmental organization engaged in food allergy advocacy and the largest private funder of food allergy research.
Because of its broader focus on food allergy research, the new law will benefit the 85 million Americans who are affected by food allergies and intolerances, including 32 million who have a potentially life-threatening condition.
The House of Representatives passed the FASTER Act on April 14, 2021. The Senate passed it on March 3, 2021. Last month more than 500 food allergy advocates participated in FARE's Courage at Congress virtual fly-in where they met with more than 200 members of the House, the Senate and their staff to push for passage of the bill.
The FASTER Act would require that sesame be labelled as an allergen on packaged foods. Sesame would become the ninth food allergen for which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires plain-language labeling. Sesame is often used when a label reads "natural flavors" or "natural spices," adding another layer of difficulty when consumers review product labels at their local grocery store. This marks the first time since 2004 that a new allergen has been added to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA).
The FASTER Act would also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue a report on scientific opportunities in food allergy research that examines prevention, treatment and new cures. In addition, the legislation establishes a risk-based scientific process and framework for establishing additional allergens covered by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.