Sesame seed allergies are a little tricky. Sesame seeds may be tiny but they are potent and can cause a serious reaction for those who are allergic. Additionly, federal law does not require sesame to be highlighted on grocery items (although it will still be included in ingredient lists). So it’s worth familiarizing yourself not only with foods that typically contain sesame seeds but also the names of ingredients that are sesame seed derivatives.
As discussed in an earlier post (http://shmallergy.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/bring-on-the-meatballs/), sesame seeds are often included in bread crumbs, making ordering food with breadcrumbs just a little more complicated. Sesame seeds are often an ingredient in wheat and multigrain breads (sliced bread, baguettes and rolls). They also make frequent appearances in crackers and cereals (such as muesli), so read your ingredient list carefully. Cross-contamination with sesame seed bagels are an issue when ordering bagels from a bagel store. Again, proceed with caution.
Sesame oil is unrefined, meaning sesame seed protein can still be found in the oil — the same protein that will likely cause an allergic reaction. Ordering Chinese food is likely out for anyone with a sesame seed allergy as much of its restaurant fair is cooked in sesame oil and includes the actual seeds in their dishes. But, if you’re cooking Chinese meals at home, you should also know that Hoisin sauce lists sesame seeds as an ingredient.
Remember when you are ordering sushi to do so without sesame seeds. Not only are rolls often covered in seeds, but seeds can be sprinkled on a variety of hot dishes as well.
As for Mediterranean fair, be aware that tahini is sesame paste. This is important to know as tahini is included as an ingredient in hummus, amongst other dishes. Ask whether or not your dish is cooked or served with tahini when ordering at Mediterranean restaurants.
Hamburger buns are not just sprinkled with sesame seeds. Many times, sesame seeds are included as an ingredient. Veggie burgers sometimes include sesame seeds as do various salad dressings and marinades. Again, read ingredient labels carefully and ask all appropriate questions when dining out.
There are several ingredients that are derived from sesame seeds. These are:
■ Benne/benne seed/benniseed
■ Gomasio (sesame salt)
■ Sesame oil is also known as gingelly or til oil
■ Sesamum indicum
■ Sim sim
■ Vegetable oil (read ingredients, most are made with soybean oil)
(Source: Food Allergy Initiative)
Also, be aware of contact with sesame seeds via some beauty products, cosmetics and dog food. Just pay attention!