WEATHER AUTHORITY : Excessive Heat Warning - Heat Advisory View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

1.5 million people in the US might have sesame allergies. That's more than previously thought

In the United States, the top allergens are required to appear on labels when they're among a product's ingredients. Milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts,...

Posted: Aug 6, 2019 8:39 AM

In the United States, the top allergens are required to appear on labels when they're among a product's ingredients. Milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans are all on the list.

A new study says 1.5 million children and adults in the United States may have a sesame allergy. That's a greater number than previously estimated, and makes it the ninth most common allergy. But sesame isn't required to be listed on food labels.

In October, the US Food and Drug Administration requested more information from researchers, medical providers and consumers on the prevalence and severity of sesame allergies to help guide regulation on labeling. The FDA told CNN that it's still reviewing public comments and has not released new information on sesame regulation.

"We see sesame allergies clinically and how difficult it is for families with sesame allergies to avoid sesame, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to really dig deeper into understanding sesame allergy in the US," said Dr. Ruchi Gupta, co-author of the new study and professor of pediatrics and medicine at Northwestern University.

For the study, published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers sent food allergy questionnaires to more than 51,000 households in all 50 states and surveyed 78,800 people.

Researchers estimate about .49% of the US population reports having a sesame allergy and .23% had what's called a "convincing," or true food allergy, with skin, lung, heart or gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms included hives, wheezing, heart palpitations, dizziness and belly pain, among others. Others may have been diagnosed with an allergy, but hadn't experienced symptoms.

The .21% of children and .24% of adults estimated to be allergic to sesame in the United States is an increase from the number reported in an earlier, smaller study, which showed a prevalence of .1%.

Sesame on food labels

Sesame is an ingredient found in a variety of spices, sauces and flavorings. And even if food doesn't have sesame, it could still be cooked in sesame oil.

"It's a tricky allergen to control in the kitchen," said Christopher Warren, lead author and epidemiologist at the Center for Food Allergy and Asthma Research at Northwestern University. For example, "in Japanese spices & seasonings, it's almost always present."

On Tuesday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a measure that requires packaged food in the state to have sesame labeled if it's an ingredient. The policy aligns with those in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and Canada, which all have sesame labeling requirements.

In Canada, sesame labeling has been required since 2012.

"It's important to be aware that we can get accidental exposure and labeling is one of the ways to inform consumers that an allergen may be present," said Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan, an associate professor of pediatrics at Montreal Children's Hospital in Canada.

Whether food labeling in Canada has reduced the number of accidental exposures hasn't been proven with studies.

"If something makes sense we don't need to prove it sometimes," Ben-Shoshan said. "I think it should also be in the US. It's a simple measure to install and it could protect lives."

The number of people in the United States who had sesame allergies from unlabeled food products wasn't calculated in the new study, according to Warren. Another limitation of the study was that people self-reported allergies and symptoms, without medical tests to confirm their results.

But even so, the study provides evidence of the "increasing burden of sesame allergy" in the United States, according to Jennifer Protudjer and Dr. Elissa Abrams from the University of Manitoba in Canada, who wrote an editorial alongside the study.

The study "supports an increasing need for diligence and awareness of the role of sesame allergy in the United States," they wrote. "It also suggests that sesame allergy may be a persistent allergy, affecting children and adults, and may result in severe reactions as well."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 341862

Reported Deaths: 7533
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23783441
DeSoto23180283
Harrison20365329
Rankin15307290
Jackson15087251
Madison10917227
Lee10674179
Jones8969169
Forrest8621159
Lauderdale7839243
Lowndes7016151
Lamar696289
Lafayette6535124
Washington5589139
Pearl River5141152
Bolivar4949134
Oktibbeha491698
Panola4766112
Warren4709127
Marshall4691106
Pontotoc446273
Union432579
Monroe4322137
Neshoba4268181
Hancock423788
Lincoln4171116
Pike3650113
Leflore3619125
Tate352888
Alcorn349574
Sunflower347194
Adams340588
Scott340176
Yazoo338575
Copiah323468
Simpson322090
Itawamba314180
Coahoma313385
Tippah304768
Prentiss297863
Covington291883
Leake284675
Marion283681
Wayne276143
George270551
Grenada268888
Newton261564
Tishomingo239370
Winston236584
Jasper229548
Attala225973
Stone225337
Chickasaw218760
Holmes199274
Clay196754
Clarke186280
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181232
Smith178935
Yalobusha171340
Walthall145348
Lawrence141626
Greene139734
Amite136943
Noxubee134835
Perry133238
Montgomery132244
Carroll125931
Webster121032
Jefferson Davis116234
Tunica113427
Benton106225
Claiborne105031
Kemper102329
Humphreys100133
Franklin87723
Quitman84619
Choctaw82319
Wilkinson77732
Jefferson71128
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 577463

Reported Deaths: 11510
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson841981589
Mobile47171860
Madison37047533
Tuscaloosa26915465
Shelby26873256
Montgomery25918625
Baldwin24499328
Lee16949181
Calhoun15252332
Morgan15017290
Etowah14778370
Marshall12933235
Houston11774292
Elmore10761217
St. Clair10617252
Limestone10574158
Cullman10363205
Lauderdale10083254
DeKalb9382191
Talladega8836188
Walker7681287
Autauga7479114
Jackson7317117
Blount7266139
Colbert6635142
Coffee6163132
Dale5453117
Russell470642
Chilton4682117
Covington4649125
Franklin450081
Tallapoosa4440156
Escambia427882
Chambers3898125
Dallas3717163
Clarke367763
Marion3427106
Pike327879
Lawrence3225101
Winston294973
Bibb284565
Geneva276383
Marengo259967
Barbour246261
Pickens240062
Butler238272
Hale232778
Fayette225264
Henry209245
Monroe197241
Randolph196744
Cherokee196348
Washington180139
Macon168752
Crenshaw165558
Clay163759
Cleburne160245
Lamar149938
Lowndes144854
Wilcox130531
Bullock126142
Conecuh119630
Coosa116929
Perry109928
Sumter109032
Greene98736
Choctaw64325
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
92° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 75°
Feels Like: 104°
Columbus
Clear
93° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 107°
Oxford
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 100°
Starkville
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 96° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 102°
Friday we will see the hottest and most humid day of the week. We will see many areas top off in the 105 to 115 degree heat index. Some areas will approach 120. Very little chances for some isolated showers and thunderstorms for the late portion of the afternoon.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather