A Philadelphia mom accidentally poisoned her daughter for weeks with food she thought was sesame-free — only to find it contained the allergen added to get around regulations meant to protect 1.5 million Americans.
- Children with a sesame allergy are at risk of eating potentially life-threatening foods
- A new regulation in January imposed stricter rules for handling the ingredient
- In an unexpected twist, several food companies have added a small amount of sesame to their products to get around the new rules
- Have you or a family member been affected by changes in food ingredients that contain allergens? Contact us at email@example.com
A mother in Philadelphia unintentionally poisoned her daughter for several weeks with food she was suffering from because of ingredient changes companies made to get around tough new legislation.
Jessica McDermott has been feeding her four-year-old daughter, Mia McDermott, who is allergic to sesame, her regular food throughout January.
But the little girl kept getting sick — as McDermott didn’t know, many of the snacks she had always safely eaten had suddenly become dangerous.
On January 1, a law aimed at protecting the 1.5 million Americans with a sesame allergy went into effect, which mandates that food companies must perform thorough cleaning to prevent cross-contamination between foods with and without sesame.
But according to Washington PostNow, companies claim they can’t ensure their machines are of the highest level of hygiene to avoid traces of allergens slipping through the net – choosing to add allergens to food so that they can be mentioned on the ingredient label instead.
Ms McDermott said her daughter became very ill after eating food that was considered safe for her allergy
On January 1, a law intended to protect the 1.5 million Americans with a sesame allergy went into effect
Ms McDermott told the outlet her daughter became “very ill” after eating a Wendy’s cheeseburger – once one of her favorite foods.
She also suffered from frequent headaches, dehydration, and vomiting.
Also, Nashville mom Emily Tibbs said she accidentally fed her 2-year-old son, Dave’s Killer, white bread, which caused the baby to develop a rash on his face, a cough and stomach pain that made him cry.
When both moms checked food labels, they were horrified to find that the items were no longer safe since sesame had been added to the ingredient list.
“I had been poisoning[Mia]unintentionally for several weeks,” Ms. McDermott said.
The Food Allergy Safety, Handling, Education, and Research Act (FASTER) means that manufacturing equipment must be carefully cleaned to ensure all foods are free of sesame, and products containing this ingredient must be clearly labeled.
But some companies claim adding the ingredient is the safer way to handle the new rules because they can’t be sure their equipment is of the highest standard of cleanliness.
Other such laws have protected millions of Americans with mild or life-threatening allergies for decades.
Some companies claim that adding sesame is the safest way to get around the new rules
Wendy’s did not respond to comment on the specific incident
But campaigners warn that allergens can be invisible if they are added in the flour, rather than in the seeds, which means children with allergies may not realize that certain foods are no longer safe for them to eat.
“A child who used to safely eat burgers for lunch at school last year won’t know about the change and will get poisoned as a result,” said Jason Linde, of Food Allergy Research and Education.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates most food labels, “does not support” the addition of sesame as a strategy to comply with the law.
“Labels should not be used in place of current Good Manufacturing Practices regarding allergens,” an FDA spokesperson told the outlet.
Wendy’s and Dave’s Killer Bread did not respond to The Washington Post for comment on these specific incidents.
Wendy’s previously issued a statement saying, “We take food safety and allergen issues very seriously. … On our current national menu in the United States, our Premium & Value Buns contain sesame flour as an ingredient.”
Media relations confirmed to Wendy that sesame is an ingredient in an excellent and valuable cookie.
WhatsNew2Day.com has approached Wendy’s and Dave’s Killer Bread for comment.