An Update on the FASTER Act
How far we've come in 2020, and what comes next in 2021
The year 2020 has been monumental for FARE as we've worked to advance food allergy research, education, advocacy and awareness. Our top legislative priority throughout the year was the Food Allergy Safety Treatment Education and Research (FASTER) Act (H.R. 2117/S. 3451), which would update allergen labeling laws to include sesame and require the federal government to analyze the most promising research opportunities to help scientists develop more effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure for food allergies.
Stories from our community created a groundswell of support for sesame labeling, starting in January when food allergy advocate Talia Day testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce in support of the U.S. House of Representatives bill for the FASTER Act, H.R. 2117.
In early March, we hosted our inaugural Courage at Congress: FARE's Advocacy Day to Fight Food Allergies 2020. More than 150 advocates from across the country joined us to participate in more than 100 meetings with congressional leaders and their staff. Later that month, a FASTER Act bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate as S. 3451.
COVID-19 reshaped our legislative outreach, but our community continued to push for sesame labeling through digital advocacy. Support for H.R. 2117 grew to nearly 100 cosponsors in the House.
H.R. 2117 passed the U.S. House of Representatives on November 17, and S. 3451 passed the U.S. Senate on December 9. Due to some minor differences between the House and Senate versions, S. 3451 was sent to the House for a final vote before it could advance. Unfortunately, the legislative clock ran out.
Our fight to label sesame is far from over, though, and we have made significant and noteworthy progress this year. It typically takes several sessions of Congress for a bill to be passed by just one chamber, so moving the FASTER Act through both chambers so quickly was truly remarkable. Of more than 16,000 bills introduced in Congress during this legislative session, fewer than 200 passed the Senate, and the FASTER Act was one of them.
We have also activated an amazing group of food allergy advocates and grassroots supporters, and our lobbying team was recently honored by The Hill, a leading Washington, D.C.-based media outlet. We carry this strength and momentum into the new year.
In January, the 117th Session of Congress will kick off and we will be there, once again pushing the FASTER Act forward. With a new session of Congress, we will start fresh, introducing the bill and securing co-sponsors. We look forward to working with the food allergy community, every step of the way, and we won't stop advocating until sesame is labeled as an allergen.