Seed Allergy (sesame seed)

Sesame seed allergy is rapidly rising in most countries, but many people never even consider sesame-containing foods as the main source of their or their childrens’ allergies. And if somebody is allergic to tree nuts, there is a good chance to be allergic to sesame seed as well, new research shows. Allergic reactions to seeds, especially to sesame seed can be severe. Sesame, sunflower, and poppy seeds have been known to cause diverse reactions. To prevent a reaction, strict and complete avoidance of seed products is essential. Always read ingredient labels and ask restaurant employees to identify sesame seed ingredients. Communication is the key for ensuring a safe, enjoyable allergen free meal. Use or “Food Allergy Translate App” or your “Personal Food Allergy Translate Cards” to gain better understanding!


The estimated prevalence of sesame seed allergy is not fully known, but as it rises with time we will have more information. Studies indicate that around 0.1-0.5 percent of the general population may have a sesame allergy, based on some surveys that have been focused primarily on the prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergy. Sesame seeds and sesame oil are the most serious allergen to allergic people. Even some infants have been found to develop serious allergies to sesame. The occurrence of sesame seed allergy varies from country to country. Interesting: it is one of the three most common allergens in Israel. According to experts sesame allergies have increased more than any other type of food allergy over the past 10 to 20 years. Such increasing prevalence led Canada to issue regulations that require food labels to note the presence of sesame.

The prevalence of allergy to sesame in patients with some form of other food allergies was found to be much higher than in the general population, ranging from 0.5% in Switzerland to 8% in Australia. In other words, allergy to sesame affects a small percentage of overall human population, but sesame allergy is high in people who already show symptoms of allergy to other foods, like tree nuts, peanuts, soy or wheat.

Allergic reactions

The symptoms of sesame seed allergy include hives, nasal itching, eczema, congestion, difficulty in breathing, abdominal pain, unconsciousness, shock with drop of blood pressure or anaphylaxis.
Very low amounts of sesame seeds, flours or oils can already trigger allergic reactions. More than two thirds of the patients with sesame allergy are also having diverse allergic reactions to other foods.

Avoid foods

Watch out for cross contamination and some unexpected source of sesame products.
A few countries require that all packaged food products that contain sesame seed as an ingredient must list the word “Sesame” on the label. However this is very rare. Many restaurants are especially not following such guidelines and no long-term solutions exist for informing guests with food allergies about the potential presence of the nine major allergens. Do not let that eating out becomes one of your top concerns.

Other names for sesame seeds

  • Benne, benne seed and benniseed
  • Gingelly and gingelly oil
  • Sesamol and sesamolina
  • Sesamum indicum
  • Sim sim
  • Til

Sesame is found

Food and products that contain or may contain sesame seeds

  • Bread (for example, hamburger buns, multi-grains, bread crumbs and sticks, cereals, crackers, melba toast and muesli)
  • Dips and spreads (for example, hummus, chutney)
  • Ethnic foods (like flavoured rice, noodles, shish kebabs, stews and stir fries
  • Sesame oil, sesame salt (gomasio)
  • Tahina
  • Tahini (sesame paste)
  • Tempeh
  • Vegetarian burgers

Other possible sources of sesame

  • Some baked goods
  • Dressings, gravies, marinades, salads, sauces and soups
  • Herbs, seasonings, flavourings and spices
  • Vegetable Pâtés
  • Snack foods (crackers, sesame snap bars)
  • Vegetable oil (may contain sesame oil)


High risk countries

High risk countries to travel with sesame seed allergy

  • All over the world, especially in Asian and North-African countries we are exposed to the risk of allergic reactions, what we're trying to reduce with our application in 33 languages.

With clear communication food allergies can be effectively managed!
According to experts and allergist the most effective and therefore best way to manage a food allergy is total avoidance. Novel solutions of communication seem to be a proven treatment for food allergies. Our Food Allergy Translate tools are contribution strategies to minimize your risk of accidents.

Eating out with food allergy!

Reduce your risk dramatically by using our Food Allergy Translate App or Personal Food Allergy Translate Cards to communicate your allergy alert in a foreign language.
Let the food service personnel know of your food allergy in advance. At least they should take extra care in preparing your meal!

Be prepared to communicate your needs in any restaurants. Let the restaurant/catering staff informed for avoiding the potential presence of the nine major allergens.

(References: Gangur V, Kelly C, Navuluri L. Sesame Allergy: A growing food allergy of global proportions;
National Institutes of Health, NIAID Allergy Statistics;
National Report of the Expert Panel on Food Allergy Research, NIH-NIAID 2003;
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), Tree Nut Allergy;
Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004;
Stanford Alliance for Food Allergy Research (SAFAR). California 2013)