Sowing seeds of doubt on your sesame seed allergy?

Of the 24 allergens, a sesame seed allergy is one of the lesser known allergens. It was first reported in the 1950s but has over time become a more common allergy, and as such is now included in the main listed allergens.

Like all allergens, they should be included on any menus or food labels and highlighted if the product in question contains sesame seeds. There are many items which can contain sesame seeds and is more common in foods than we realise.

This particular allergen was the beginning of Natasha’s law. What was an innocent purchase at a takeaway turned out to be devastating as the sandwich in question had undeclared sesame seeds within the recipe.

What is a Sesame Allergy?

A sesame allergy is an intolerance to sesame seeds. It isn’t just sesame seeds that can cause a reaction, any food or product which may contain traces of sesame may cause a reaction for the person with the said allergy. Some people who are allergic to sesame seeds may also be allergic to peanuts and other tree nuts. It is important to receive a full allergy test from your GP if you are concerned about allergies.

What foods contain sesame seeds?

There are many foods which contain sesame.

Such as:

  • Hummus

  • Tahini

  • Halvah

Other foods may contain traces of sesame: Beans, biscuits, crackers, noodles, dips, soups, and sauces. It may also be in other food items such as herbal drinks.

Restaurants or cafes may also have aspects of cross-contamination. This is what happens when some allergens are in contact with other foods which wouldn’t contain the ingredient normally. Cross-contamination is an issue many restaurants and cafes face when they do not properly section and separate their items. Labelling systems can also help keep items separate due to their quick visual guide as to what potential allergens are in each item.

Sesame oil is unlike other oils. Peanut oil is so refined that there is very little trace of the allergenic protein in the oil. Sesame oil is not refined as the process to create the oil involves cold-pressing the sesame seeds. Sesame oil can also be used in pharmaceutical products and cosmetics. If you have a sesame allergy it is best to check each ingredient on the items you purchase.

How do I know if I am allergic to sesame seeds?

If you are concerned about any allergies it is best to visit your local GP. They will be able to provide you with an allergen test which can see if you are allergic to sesame seeds. If you have any form of rash, swelling, or anaphylaxis. Your reaction may vary depending on how severe your allergy is.

How can I treat my allergy?

It is always best to use any medications your local GP provides you. These may be antihistamines, topical creams, or even an EpiPen for severe allergic reactions.

The best solution is to avoid the allergen as much as possible. If you have any concerns that an item you are about to consume contains sesame seeds, always speak to your server. It is now a legal requirement for businesses to provide clear labels on all items which contain any or all of the 14 main allergens.

If you have any questions about food labelling systems please contact us now. Allergen Checker provides a free 7 day trial to our online allergen labelling system.

The information provided in this blog is purely informational. Please speak to your GP for further information on any concerns you have regarding allergies. Sources for information are: