Ever found yourself nursing a sneeze or two after tucking into a scrumptious bagel or moreish hummus? You’re not alone, mate. Everyone with sesame allergy had the same experience.
This blog post is intended to offer some comprehensive guidance about which food items should be given a miss if you’re battling with this particular intolerance.
Have a gander at these tips for unearthing hidden sources of sesame in your meals and getting savvy about managing this rather tricky food aversion – trust us, it’s simpler than it sounds!
What Is Sesame Allergy?
Sesame allergy is a condition where the immune system reacts negatively to proteins found in sesame seeds and products derived from sesame.
There are many signs of sesame allergy. Some of them might be mild, and some can be severe. A rash or red spots on the skin may show up. Some people may feel sick in their belly and throw up. You may find it hard to swallow food or talk due to a tight throat. Another sign is a tickly throat that makes you cough a lot. Sometimes, you might have trouble breathing too.
- Skin rash or hives
- Feeling like throwing up
- Belly pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Tightness in your throat
- Swollen lips, tongue, mouth, or areas around the eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Anaphylactic shock
Allergic Reactions to Sesame
“I am allergic to sesame seeds.” It’s not a fun thing to have, we can tell you that. The allergic reactions can be pretty harsh, and some might even require you to go to the ER. Some of the allergic reactions you can have include:
- Hives start showing up all over your body.
- Your mouth feels itchy.
- There is a swelling in your lips, tongue and throat.
- You may start wheezing or feel pain in your chest.
- The area around the eyes also gets swollen.
Sesame Allergy in Children
Some kids cannot, unfortunately, enjoy certain treats. One such issue is sesame allergy in children. It ranks as the ninth most common food allergy among kids and adults in the U.S., affecting about 17% of children with food allergies.
The immune system thinks sesame is harmful and reacts to it.
Just like adults, kids, too, can show signs of allergic reactions to sesame seeds or oil. They may get hives or feel itchy. Sometimes, they might have a swollen face, belly pain, or even find it hard to breathe.
In recent years, more people seem to be allergic to these tiny seeds—about one in 100 folks! We also need to watch out for other seeds like pine nuts, macadamia nuts, and flaxseed that might cause similar troubles.
Foods to Avoid with a Sesame Allergy
When dealing with a sesame allergy, it is crucial to avoid foods that contain sesame seeds, such as bread, cookies, crackers, and dressings.
Foods Containing Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are a versatile ingredient used in various cuisines around the world. They can be found in a wide range of foods, both savoury and sweet. Here are some foods that often contain sesame seeds:
- Bread is a common food with sesame seeds.
- Breadsticks may contain sesame seeds.
- Hamburger buns often have this ingredient.
- Bagels are another food with sesame seeds.
- Pasteli has lots of sesame seeds in it.
Foods Containing Sesame Oil
If you are a fan of Asian food and have a sesame allergy, you might want to rethink choosing your favourite stir-fry dish for dinner.
Most Asian dishes contain sesame oil, derived from sesame seeds, which is used as a cooking oil or flavouring in many dishes. So, foods with sesame oil should be on your “no” list.
- Salad Dressings: Many dressings use sesame oil for flavour.
- Asian Cuisine: A lot of Asian dishes have sesame oil in them.
- Marinades and Sauces: Some marinades and sauces use this oil. It could be present in barbeque sauce, too.
- Fried Food: Some fried foods use sesame oil for cooking.
- Packaged Snacks: Some snacks, like chips, might contain sesame oil.
Other Possible Sources of Sesame
Sesame hides in many foods. It’s not always just seeds or oil. It might surprise you to find out it can be in other things as well:
- Benne seed
- Sesame flour
- Other types of processed meats
Treatment and Management of Sesame Allergy
To manage a sesame allergy, it is important to avoid sesame-containing foods, read food labels carefully, and be aware of cross-reactivity with other allergens. Ready to learn more about treating and managing your sesame allergy? Keep reading!
Avoidance of Sesame-Containing Foods
If you or someone you know has a sesame allergy or sensitivity, it’s essential to take precautions to avoid sesame-containing foods to prevent an allergic reaction. Sesame is one of the top allergens in some regions, and cross-contamination is a concern in food preparation. Here are some examples you can follow to avoid any sesame-containing food:
- “I don’t eat anything with sesame seeds. This includes white, brown, and black sesame seeds.” Don’t be shy to state this whenever you are hanging out with someone new who doesn’t know about sesame allergy.
- Foods cooked with sesame oil should also be off your plate.
- Some foods may have sneaky sesame in them, such as bread, hummus or tahini sauce. It’s important to be alert all the time.
- You should stay away from certain Asian dishes since many of them use sesame oil or seeds.
- Checking packets and jars for food labels is a must. If it says ‘sesame’, it shouldn’t go in your shopping basket.
- Sometimes, other names are used for sesame on labels like Gingelly, Benne or Simsim. So, always look for these names as well.
- Even if a product says ‘may contain traces of nuts and seeds‘, it is safer for you not to risk it.
- Make sure to alert people of your allergy if they invite you over for food.
Reading Food Labels
Reading food labels is crucial for individuals with sesame allergies. It helps us identify whether a food product contains sesame or not. Here are some important things to keep in mind when reading food labels:
- Look for the word “sesame” in the ingredient list. It may be listed as “sesame seeds,” “sesame oil,” or any other form of sesame.
- Be aware of cross-contamination risks. Some products may not contain sesame as an ingredient but could still be contaminated with sesame during manufacturing. Look for statements such as “may contain traces of sesame” or “manufactured in a facility that also processes sesame.”
- Check for allergen labelling. As of 1 January 2023, packaged foods in the U.S. are required to label sesame as an allergen clearly.
- Familiarise yourself with common names and derivatives of sesame. For example, tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and is commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Cross-Reactivity with Other Allergens
It’s important to know that if you have a sesame allergy, you may also be at risk for cross-reactivity with other allergens. Cross-reactivity happens when proteins in different foods are similar enough to trigger an allergic reaction.
In the case of sesame allergy, there is cross-reactivity with rye, kiwi, poppy seed, and certain tree nuts like hazelnut and black walnut. This means that if you have a sesame allergy, it’s possible that you may also react to these foods.
Some allergists recommend avoiding potentially cross-reactive foods such as other seeds, peanuts, and tree nuts for individuals with sesame allergy. It’s always best to consult with your doctor or allergist to determine which specific foods should be avoided based on your unique situation.
When to See a Doctor
If you are experiencing symptoms of a sesame allergy or have had a severe allergic reaction to sesame in the past, it is important to seek medical attention. A doctor can provide a proper diagnosis and help develop an appropriate treatment plan for your condition.
They may recommend tests or refer you to an allergist for further evaluation. It’s also essential to consult a healthcare professional if you accidentally consume sesame or suspect that certain foods may contain hidden sources of sesame.
Remember, seeking medical advice is crucial for managing your sesame allergy effectively and ensuring your safety. Consider the following two options if you or someone you know has severe sesame allergy:
- Consider Medical ID: If you or your child has a severe sesame allergy, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace that specifies the allergy.
- Be Prepared with Epinephrine: If you have a known sesame allergy, carry an epinephrine auto-injector (e.g., EpiPen) as prescribed by your doctor and know how to use it in case of an emergency.
If you have a sesame allergy, it’s crucial to avoid foods that contain sesame seeds and sesame oil. Make sure to read food labels carefully and be aware of other possible sources of sesame in your diet.
If you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction, seek medical attention promptly. Stay safe and enjoy a healthier life without worrying about sesame allergies!
1. What are some common foods that may contain sesame and should be avoided?
Common foods that may contain sesame and should be avoided include bread, buns, crackers, tahini, hummus, salad dressings, and Asian dishes like sushi or stir-fries.
2. Can I eat products labelled “may contain traces of sesame” if I have a sesame allergy?
It is not recommended to consume products labelled “may contain traces of sesame” if you have a sesame allergy because cross-contamination could occur during production.
3. Are there any hidden sources of sesame in food ingredients?
Yes, some hidden sources of sesame in food ingredients can include natural flavours, spices, certain vegetable oils (like tahini oil), and additives such as gomashio or furikake seasoning.
4. How can I identify if a packaged food contains sesame?
To identify if a packaged food contains sesame, you should carefully read the ingredient list on the packaging, as it is required to disclose any presence of allergens, including sesame.
5. Are there any substitutes for using sesame seeds or paste in recipes?
Yes, there are several substitutes for using sesame seeds or paste in recipes, such as sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, for a similar texture and flavour profile.