Statement of Jason Linde, Senior Vice President of Advocacy, FARE, responding to the American Bakers Association letter to Congress regarding its members intentionally adding sesame to its products to “protect consumer safety.”
“After remaining silent for more than a year after its member, Pan-O-Gold Baking Company, notified a consumer that it would begin to intentionally add sesame to avoid complying with the FASTER Act, and only under the threat of congressional pressure, the American Bakers Association (ABA) finally claimed in a seven-page letter that its members’ actions – which have already poisoned countless members of the food allergy community – were done‘to protect consumer safety.’
“Even in Washington, D.C. where the truth is regularly bent, the ABA’s statement is both ludicrous and unbelievable. Their actions endangered children, enraged parents, and cast a national spotlight on their behavior – the very things a trade association representing food manufacturers seeks to avoid.
“Not once in their letter did the ABA or its members take any responsibility for the harm they have caused by intentionally adding sesame to their products whether it resulted in making children sick or removing previously safe products from the grocery store shelf and out of restaurants. Instead, the Bakers seek to absolve themselves and its members of any blame.
“Despite the ABA’s best efforts to paper over their behavior, questions still remain:
- If the ABA members can’t clean or segregate their lines as they now claim, how come some baking companies are complying with the FASTER Act, including those providing buns and other bakery products to McDonald’s, for example?
- Why didn’t the ABA raise concerns to the FASTER Act’s author, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) in 2019 and 2020 when the bill was being discussed, that its members couldn’t comply? FARE worked directly with Sen. Scott’s office and agreed to the ABA’s request for additional time to comply during this time.
- Contrary to the Bakers’ claim, other companies including Kellogg’s, Hostess, and Pearson’s have all added a labeled allergen – in this case, peanut flour – to avoid complying with FALCPA.
- Lastly, and most importantly, why has there been silence for more than a year if, as the ABA claims, this was all done to protect consumers? FARE was in touch with the ABA throughout the process and at no time did the ABA ever inform us of their intentions so we could warn our community. In fact, FARE informed ABA about Pan-O-Gold’s activities immediately after we became aware.
“Two years after telling us they would be happy to comply with the FASTER Act, now the ABA and its members are trying to pull the ultimate dodge: instead of taking responsibility and complying with the spirit and letter of the law, they are asking the FDA to step-in and establish food allergen thresholds.
“After waiting more than a year for the Bakers to finally respond about its members intentionally adding sesame to their products, one thing is true. America’s food allergic community deserves better than this.”
FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is the nation’s leading non-profit engaged in food allergy advocacy as well as the largest private funder of food allergy research. FARE’s innovative education, advocacy and research initiatives transform the future of food allergy through new and improved treatments and prevention strategies, effective policies and legislation, and novel approaches to managing the disease. To learn more, visit: foodallergy.org.