In 2021, the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act was passed, making sesame the ninth leading food allergen in the United States, and the requirement went into effect January 1, 2023. Sesame, a major allergen, must be labeled on packaged foods that contain sesame as an ingredient.
“Since the FASTER Act was passed, retailers, wholesalers and product suppliers have worked to update labels declaring sesame as a major allergen for all products containing sesame as an ingredient.” said Ashley Eisenviser, senior director of food and products at FMI. safety program.
As part of that process, members of the food industry update their food safety plans and allergen control programs to prevent allergen cross-contact in manufacturing and to ensure that accurate allergen information is included on product labels.
Many companies have voluntarily declared sesame as an allergen on their labels before the law’s effective date, Eisenweiser said.
“Verifying the accuracy of allergen information on food labels throughout the supply chain is important for many reasons,” she said. “Undeclared allergens are a leading cause of recalls, and have been for quite some time. .”
Most importantly, individuals with food allergies rely on accurate allergen information on product labels when making purchasing decisions.
Grocery’s fresh produce division deals with many products and ingredients that contain major food allergens, Eisenbeiser said.
Additionally, retail cooking is different than a manufacturing environment. For example, multiple items with different major allergens are often cooked at the same time in a limited area.
While these are major challenges, food safety and public health are very important to retailers and they are facing them.
Eisenbeiser said this includes providing customers with a variety of healthy and safe foods, and notifying customers with food allergies about the possible presence of allergens in the fresh and prepared foods department. It also includes responsibility.
“Training retail food employees in allergen awareness is essential to successfully implementing a comprehensive allergen management program in a retail food facility and equipping employees with the knowledge and tools necessary to protect customers with allergies. important to make sure that
New traceability requirements
Looking ahead to 2023, Eisenbeiser said the FMI will continue to work with members to implement the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
FSMA has revolutionized the way food is regulated and produced, with more than a dozen FSMA regulations promulgated over the past decade. Although most of the rules have been in force for several years, the FMI continues to support its members’ efforts to protect the food supply and ensure all food is as safe as possible, she said. I was.
One of FMI’s areas of particular focus is ensuring that its supplier programs are strong.
“Supplier programs play an important role in ensuring food safety and are a regulatory requirement of FSMA,” said Eisenbeiser. “Food safety is our number one priority, and we encourage businesses to implement a strong food safety management program, meet all food safety regulatory requirements, such as those established by FSMA, and be certified and audited annually. It is important to purchase products from reputable vendors that are part of a GFSI program such as SQF.”
The traceability rule for FSMA’s Section 204, finalized in November, will be one of the last rules to be published under FSMA and represents a significant change to the food industry’s recordkeeping requirements, it said. she said.
FMI is committed to educating the food industry about what food traceability regulations require.
“As part of this effort, we will develop tools and resources to help FMI members comply with the rules.”