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What Does the US FASTER Act Mean for Allergen Labelling?

What US-based food businesses need to know about the FASTER Act
19th Apr 2022

What is the FASTER Act? 

The 2021 Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act, amongst other things, adds sesame to the list of major food allergens. 

To protect those with food allergies and other food hypersensitivities, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforces laws requiring food manufacturers to specify ingredients that are major food allergens on the labels of packaged foods and beverages. The FDA also enforces regulations that require food manufactures to prevent allergen cross-contact (the inadvertent incorporation of a major food allergen into a food). Clarifying food allergen requirements for industry is part of the FDA’s safety measures to help protect consumers from ingredients and foods they may be allergic to without overly restricting food choices. 

On April 23rd, 2021, President Biden signed the FASTER Act into law. This bill expands the definition of major allergens to include sesame and requires analysis of food allergy research. 

What does the FASTER Act cover? 

The FASTER Act means that sesame must be treated and listed as one of the top food allergens. The Act will:
  • update allergen labelling laws to include sesame,
  • collect national information on Americans’ exposure to food allergens and prevalence of allergies to specific allergens,
  • expand current guidance on patient experience data to include food allergies, and
  • study the economic costs of food allergies. 

Exactly what does it mean? 

The Act means that labelling of sesame will have to meet all requirements of the Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA), in the same ways as the other eight major allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans. 

The legal requirements apply to all FDA-regulated packaged foods, including dietary supplements. They include all ingredients that either are or contain a major food allergen, including ingredients that would otherwise be permitted to use a collective declaration, e.g. incidental additives, flavours and colours. The Act applies to food packaged by a retail or foodservice establishment. It does not apply to foods placed in containers or packages in specific response to a consumer request, e.g. a sandwich made to order for a customer. 

Allergens must be declared on the label in one of two ways: either as an ingredient, or in a separate “Contains” statement. This declaration must be present on the label itself; information on the shelf display, website or anywhere else is not sufficient. 

The declaration also must use the food source from which the allergen is derived. For example, including ‘tahini’ on an ingredient list is insufficient. In this instance, sesame must either be included in parenthesis — e.g. tahini (sesame) — or in a separate “Contains” statement. 

The FASTER Act also means that facilities will have to have specific controls in place to prevent cross-contact with sesame, just as they do for other major allergens. 

When will it come into effect? 

The FASTER Act will be effective from January 1st, 2023. Any manufacturer who wishes to introduce allergen labelling for sesame at an earlier date than this is welcome to do so. 

How can Nutritics help? 

Our software can automate your allergen labelling system to give you the support you need in complying with the FASTER Act. With a database that is consistently maintained with accurate, scientific and up-to-the-minute information, Nutritics can offer your business peace of mind. 

For more information on how Nutritics can benefit your business, get in touch today!