While sesame is one of the more common food allergens in North America, its incidence is still relatively small compared to allergens such as peanut and tree nut.
In Canada, 0.9 per cent of people have the allergy and in the United States that figure is 0.1 per cent.
For other seeds, such as mustard, the prevalence isn’t known. However, what is clear is that food allergy, including allergies to seeds, is on the rise in North America and other developed countries. In Canada, an estimated 7.5 per cent of people have food allergies, representing more than 2.5 million people. In the United States it’s estimated that 12 million Americans (or just under 4 per cent of the population) have food allergies.
A major study in the United States recently found that cases of peanut allergy in children more than tripled in a decade, and that more than 3 million Americans now have a peanut or nut allergy.
Here are the rates of some of the major allergens in Canada and the U.S.
|Peanut||1.68 %||0.71 %||0.93 %|
|Tree Nut||1.59 %||1 %||1.14 %|
|Shellfish||0.5 %||1.69 %||1.42 %|
|Fish||0.18 %||0.56 %||0.48 %|
|Sesame||0.23 %||0.05 %||0.09 %|
Source: Surveying Canadians to Assess the Prevalence of Common Food Allergies and Attitudes towards Food Labelling and Risk (SCAAALAR) study. Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, June 2010.
Peanut, Tree Nut or both:
Children – 2.1 %
Adults – 1.3 %
Source: US prevalence of self-reported peanut, tree nut, and sesame allergy: 11-year follow-up. Published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, June 2010.