Adverse events and labeling issues related to suspected sesame allergy reported in an online survey

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2022 Mar;128(3):279-282. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2021.12.005. Epub 2021 Dec 7.


Background: Allergen avoidance is critical for those with immunoglobulin E-mediated food allergy, but can only be successful with accurate product information. Although the Food and Drug Administration maintains the Center for Food Safety and Nutrition Adverse Event Reporting System to collect adverse event (AE) reports related to foods, there is substantial underreporting, and information regarding product labeling issues is limited.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to describe allergic reactions associated with accidental oral exposure to sesame and the role of product labeling.

Methods: A questionnaire was developed and disseminated to online communities focused on sesame allergy. The questionnaire included questions on clinical characteristics, treatments, outcomes, and labeling issues.

Results: A total of 360 clinical reactions related to sesame were reviewed in 327 individuals. Anaphylaxis occurred in 68.9% of reactions. Hospitalization occurred in 47.8% of events and epinephrine was administered in 36.4% of cases. Events involving a packaged food product occurred in 67.5% of AEs with only 43.8% of these using the term "sesame." An alternative name was noted in 46.0% of products that did not include "sesame" on labeling, most of which was "tahini."

Conclusion: We determined considerable sesame food allergy morbidity, in part owing to inconsistent allergen labeling. Our findings support the development of a more rapid process for the Food and Drug Administration to update the major allergen list and formulation of an improved system for reporting AEs related to foods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Allergens
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / diagnosis
  • Food Hypersensitivity* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Product Labeling
  • Sesamum* / adverse effects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Allergens