How many people have a sesame allergy?

How many people have a sesame allergy?

It doesn’t get as much attention as more high-profile food allergens like the peanut, but it’s possible that more people have allergies to sesame than has been previously thought.

A recent study published in JAMA Network Open looked at survey responses by nearly 80,000 adults and children across the country and found that about .2% reported experienced a sesame allergy symptom, a small number that’s still equivalent to more than a million Americans.

Sesame is a common ingredient beyond being a smattering of seeds on top of hamburger buns, and avoiding it is important to people with the allergy to avoid potentially dangerous reactions.

“This study is just another reminder that people need to be mindful of what’s in the food they eat,” says Dr. Anita Gheller-Rigoni an allergist and immunologist with Aurora Health Care in Oshkosh, Wis. “Sesame is everywhere, and talking to an allergist could help people navigate what seems to be a more common issue for Americans.”

The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require that packaged foods label sesame in the same way it does for other allergens, like milk or peanuts. But it’s considering it. Illinois this year moved to require such labeling.

“Products with ‘natural flavors’ or ‘spices’ listed on their label may contain small amounts of sesame,” then-FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in a statement last year to announce the FDA’s review of sesame labeling. “And people allergic to sesame might eat food labeled as containing ‘tahini’ without knowing that tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. Fear of not knowing whether a food contains sesame may lead some people to unnecessarily limit their diets to avoid possible exposure.”

Dr. Gheller-Rigoni suggests that if you suspect you have a sesame allergy, you should talk to an allergist.

“It can be confusing and difficult for an average person to sort out what in their food is causing an allergic reaction, so a professional can help,” she says.

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  1. It is sad that the medical community is now making comments about a wide variety of food allergies, besides peanuts. It was long thought of back in the 80’s by Clinical Egologists/Allergists, that many people were allergic to many foods. They were laughed at and looked down on. There studies and help for many of us was far more advanced and yet here we are today doing what they did with desensitizing people to food allergies. That food allergies can cause a wide variety of aliments beyond just anaphylactic shock and hives. Interesting that Advocate Aurora is just talking about all these allergies like it’s a new thing. I would love to find a doctor that screens and treats for all food allergies as mine retired many years ago and I have never found another that does the same testing.

  2. I agree with Tina’s comment. I had to go outside the “medical” community to get my food allergies tested, finding out I have ALOT of them. I stopped eating all of them which was very difficult and time consuming and if a food has generic information on the ingredients (spices) that are not listed, I don’t buy it. It should be a requirement that ALL ingredients be listed. But on the flip side, after taking the foods I’m allergic to out of my diet, my severe asthma disappeared and my rare autoimmune disease improved. I believe the medical community needs to be on board with this type of testing.

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About the Author

Mike Riopell
Mike Riopell

Mike Riopell, health enews contributor, is a media relations coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. He previously worked as a reporter and editor covering politics and government for the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald and Bloomington Pantagraph, among others. He enjoys bicycles, home repair, flannel shirts and being outside.