The U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously passed the FASTER Act, bringing sesame one step closer to becoming the ninth major allergen, as defined by federal law.
The Act would also require the federal government to analyze research opportunities to help develop more effective treatments for food allergies.
The legislation, first introduced in the House by Rep. Doris Matsui in April 2019, is designed to improve the safety of those in the food allergy community by declaring sesame the top ninth allergen as recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, making labeling for it mandatory and expanding research to find new treatments.
According to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), the world’s leading non-governmental organization engaged in food allergy advocacy and the largest private funder of food allergy research, CEO Lisa Gable, there are more than 1.5 million Americans who are allergic to sesame and FARE has been advocating for the passage of the FASTER Act alongside Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-06), Rep. Anna Eshoo (CA-18) and more than 90 other legislative champions for nearly two years.
“To see this bill move forward today, getting this much closer to becoming a law, is a true achievement and I am so proud of the work FARE and our champions in Congress have done on behalf of our community – a community that extends beyond those affected by a sesame allergy but who account for 32 million Americans living with food allergy and up to 85 million who avoid buying products containing a top 9 allergen,” Gable said.
How big of an issue is food allergies in the United States? FARE says that every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to an emergency room. That adds up to more than 200,000 emergency visits per year. It is estimated that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. Nearly 6 million, or 8 percent of children, have food allergies, with young children being affected most. And the number of people with allergies in the country is growing.
In March, FARE brought together more than 150 food allergy advocates from across the country for more than 100 successful meetings on Capitol Hill, urging support for this critical legislation. During the past year, FARE’s advocates have sent more than 8,000 emails and held hundreds of virtual and in-person district meetings with members of Congress and staff.
Rep. Matsui thanked FARE officials for the organization’s work in advocating for this legislation.
“I’d like to thank FARE, Lisa Gable, and the thousands of food allergy advocates who sent emails, made calls, and visited members of Congress and staff to build support and make sesame the ninth allergen to be labeled under law,” Matsui said.
Having been passed by the House of Representatives, the bill will now head to the U.S. Senate for consideration. The Senate version of the bill was introduced on March 12. It currently has five co-sponsors. FARE will seek to introduce both bills during the first 100 days of the 117th Session of Congress, which convenes in 2021.
For more information on the FASTER Act, click here.
FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) has the mission to improve the quality of life and the health of individuals with food allergies, and to provide them hope through the promise of new treatments. To learn more about FARE, visit their Living Teal YouTube channel, or www.foodallergy.org.
(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here)