Unintended Consequences Strike Again 

0.5% of 330 million is still a lot of people.

Last week, I wrote about my sad discovery that sesame seeds had been removed from Trader Joe’s hamburger buns. Though I’m disappointed by this change, I can at least appreciate it as one that was made in the interest of protecting customers afflicted with a sesame allergy. By contrast, many other companies have made a greedier decision.

When the 117th Congress passed the FASTER Act of 2021, the intention was to protect people who have an allergy to sesame. Companies would ideally clean production lines, then declare products to be sesame-free, and thus safe for those consumers. Instead, however, many businesses are adding small amounts of new sesame to existing recipes. With this change, they can simply note the allergen on their packaging and move on.

Those companies are betting that the 99.5% of Americans who don’t suffer from a sesame allergy won’t care or even notice, and that this change will be cheaper than following the spirit of the new law. They’re probably correct, but as a result, many once-safe foods are now needlessly off-limits for those allergic to sesame.