Sesame allergy is fairly common in some countries, including Australia and Israel, and anecdotally it would appear to be on the increase in New Zealand. Occasionally reactions are severe. Even when these are mild or moderate, it must be assumed that a future reaction may be severe and medical advice should be sought in all cases. Where it is considered there a real risk of an extreme reaction, injectable adrenaline may be prescribed.
People who are allergic to sesame must seek to avoid it completely, as even a tiny amount may trigger a severe reaction.
The rise in sesame allergy is possibly linked to its increased use in cooking. It is often used for flavouring and decorative purposes in foods.
Heating does not destroy the allergenicity of sesame.
Sesame oil should be avoided as it is most likely to be unrefined, and therefore contain the allergenic proteins that trigger allergic reactions.
Bread and other products bought from bakeries should also be avoided as these may be contaminated by sesame seeds from other breads. The seeds may not be obvious — they may be in dough or on the bottom.
Dishes containing sesame include:• tahini
Some examples of where sesame may be present:
Note: Always read labels as sesame may appear in foods not listed here.