Moments ago, the Senate unanimously passed the FASTER Act introduced by Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT). This is fantastic news for all patients with food allergies – and particularly exciting for the millions of Americans who are allergic to sesame seeds.
What is the FASTER Act?
The Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act is a bill aimed at increasing safety for those with food allergies and analyzing data and allocating resources for research and treatment.
Also known as S.3451/H.R. 2117, the FASTER Act proposes:
- An update to the food allergy labeling laws to include sesame.
- Currently, sesame is not required to be labeled by its common name and can be hidden under general terms, making it both difficult and dangerous for the 1.5+ million Americans living with a sesame allergy.
- Requires the government to analyze promising opportunities for research so that they may diversify approved treatment options.
- Currently, there is only one approved treatment option (oral immunotherapy – OIT) which can only benefit some patients with peanut allergy.
Why is this important?
The FASTER Act increases transparency on ingredient labels for those with sesame seed allergies. This could set the stage for the labeling of other allergens that are hidden in ingredient labeling (such as corn). Allergy to sesame seeds are on the rise, the reactions to this allergen tend to be severe and this labeling change falls in line with how most other industrialized nations are approaching the allergen.
To learn more about sesame seed allergy, please read:
Sesame: the 9th Food Allergen?
Open Sesame: Prevalence of Sesame Seed Allergy & Progress in Labeling
FDA Issues Guidance Regarding Sesame Labeling
Food Allergy Advocacy – A Day on Capital Hill
The FASTER Act will also allocate funds so that the CDC can analyze data and encourage promising research for all food allergic patients. The most popular treatment for those with food allergies is “food avoidance” which is difficult, costly and filled with potentially costly mistakes. The only FDA- approved treatment to date is Palforzia, primarily aimed at children with peanut allergies. This bill could create opportunity for future treatments to emerge for other food allergies, increasing the number of people who can tolerate their allergen, reducing cost, worry and greatly improving quality of life.
This bill represents a compromise of H.R. 2117 and S.3451 – one that representatives from both the House and Senate have created together based on the original bills (House bill H.R. 2117 and Senate bill S.3451). Now that this new bill has passed the Senate, it will head back to the House for final approval. Following that, the FASTER Act will hopefully land on the President’s desk to be signed into law before this Congress comes to a close in January 2021.
Allergy Shmallergy/AllergyStrong will keep you posted on this exciting development!