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Over a Million Americans Have This Allergy, but It's Not a Requirement on Food Labels

You’ve heard of peanut and shellfish allergies, and lactose intolerance, but probably not much about sesame allergies, despite it being the ninth most common food allergy in the United States, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reports. To put this into some perspective, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Network Open (via The New York Times) at least one million Americans are allergic to sesame.

A sesame allergy can result in anaphylaxis and in severe cases could be fatal. Other symptoms, according to Medical News Today, could include hives, nausea, vomiting, swelling, pain in the abdomen, and coughing.

The allergy is also becoming more prevalent, yet despite this, it is not listed as a “major food allergen,” and consumers can accidentally become exposed to sesame (which is commonly found in seeds, baked goods, oils, and pastes). It is for this reason that the study’s senior author Dr. Ruchi S. Gupta is hoping that the Food and Drug Administration will consider listing sesame as one of the major food allergens—The New York Times notes that the federal government currently requires manufacturers to tell consumers if a product is created using these allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, wheat, soybeans, and tree nuts.

“It is important for consumers to be aware of sesame allergies,” Dr. Gupta said, according to American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. “With evidence mounting that sesame allergy is on the rise, and can result in severe reactions, we are hopeful that the Food and Drug Administration will take these data into account as they determine whether or not to add sesame to their list of major food allergens.”

The study also noted that many people who had reported symptoms of a sesame allergy were not actually diagnosed, and Dr. Gupta wants to express the importance of following up with a medical professional if you’ve experienced a reaction to a food.

“If you eat a food and have a reaction, it is important to get it diagnosed because you want to make sure it really is an allergy to that food before you spend your life avoiding that food,” she told The New York Times.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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