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McHenry Introduces FASTER Act

Press Release

Date: March 2, 2021
Location: Washington, DC

Last week, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R, NC-10) joined Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D, CA-06) to introduce H.R. 1202, the FASTER Act, which updates food allergen labeling laws to include sesame and further helps the 32 million Americans that suffer from food allergies.

"Over 1.5 million people are allergic to sesame, yet there is no requirement to include the ingredient on product labels. The FASTER Act changes this, providing a much-needed update to allergen labeling laws to include sesame," said Congressman McHenry. "Additionally, the bill requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to regularly review promising food allergy treatments and research, enabling us to better treat the millions of Americans that suffer from these life-threatening allergies."

"For individuals and families with food allergies, accurate ingredient labels are vital to making everyday decisions and avoid potentially life-threatening consequences," said Congresswoman Matsui. "Unfortunately, current FDA labeling requirements do not include sesame, leaving nearly 1.6 million Americans with a sesame allergy to fend for themselves. Thanks to an amazing outpouring of grassroots advocacy last Congress we had over 90 bipartisan cosponsors on the FASTER Act. I am proud to reintroduce this bill with my bipartisan colleagues, and together we are encouraged that support for labeling sesame will only grow in this new Congress. Food allergy families are truly resilient, and together we are working hard to make sure that this bill gets across the finish line."

Background: The FASTER Act would require that sesame be labeled as an allergen on packaged foods. Sesame would become the ninth food allergen for which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires plain-language labeling. Sesame is often used when a label reads "natural flavors" or "natural spices," adding another layer of difficulty when consumers review product labels at their local grocery store.

The bill would also require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue a report on scientific opportunities in food allergy research that examines prevention, treatment, and new cures. In addition, the legislation establishes a risk-based scientific process and framework for establishing additional allergens covered by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.