Seeds are a good inexpensive source of protein, and we’re eating more of them. They lurk in unlikely places. While sesame is the only seed trigger on Canada’s current priority allergen list, medical studies show people have reacted to mustard seed, sunflower, poppy seeds, flax seeds – and even perilla, an Asian seed used in spices.
There’s even a medical report of allergic reaction to hemp seed. In this case, the diner ate hemp-seed covered catfish and ended up in the hospital with anaphylaxis.
Seeds can be quite insidious because not only are they a tasty source of protein, but their oils are used for cosmetics, lotions, bandages, and even insecticides.
Be especially careful with generic label descriptions like spices and vegetable oil. Seeds can lurk there and in marinades (source: Health Canada).
Be part of an investigative community. On the Allergic Living website, there’s been a feisty discussion about the use of sesame in bandage adhesives. While the Canadian Food Inspection Agency lists bandaids as a carrier of sesame, it does not require manufacturers to list this as an ingredient. Your sleuth skills need to be honed because sesame comes under many names. According to Health Canada, watch for the following.
Other Names for Sesame Seeds
Possible Sources of Sesame
Aqua Libra (herbal drink)
Baked goods: breads, cookies, pastries, bagels, buns
Bread crumbs, bread sticks, cereals, crackers, melba toast, muesli
Dips, pâtés, spreads, e.g., hummus, chutney
Dressings, gravies, marinades, salads, sauces, soups
Ethnic foods, e.g., flavoured rice, noodles, shish kebabs, stews, stir fry
Herbs, seasoning, spice
Processed meats, sausages
Risotto (rice dish)
Sesame oil, sesame salt (gomasio)
Snack foods: bagel/pita chips, candy, granola bars, halvah, pretzels, rice cakes, sesame snap bars
It’s good to understand the foreign names for seeds. From the Epicentre Website:
Other Sesame Seed Names
Bene Seeds, Beniseed, Benne, Gingelly, Gingili, Gingilli, Semsem, Simsim, Teel, Til
Spanish: ajonjoli, sesamo
Arabic: tahina, tahine, tahini
Chinese: chi mah, hak chi mah (black sesame)
Indian: gingelly (oil)
Japanese: goma, kuro goma (black sesame)
Malay: bene, bijan