FILE - Jonathan Carroll

State Rep. Jonathan Carroll.

Illinois’ newest law is likely to have a nationwide effect on food warning labels across the country, according to an industry expert.

The law enacted late last month requires any packaged retail product sold in Illinois that contains sesame to be labeled as such, similar to federal guidelines for peanuts. 

The legislation is personal for state Rep. Jonathan Carroll, a Democrat from Northbrook. 

“I have a daughter with severe food allergies in a variety of areas,” he said in April when introducing the bill on the House floor. “One area that’s been ignored is in the area of sesame allergies.”

Jason Culotta, president of the Midwest Food Products Association, said the requirement could lead producers across the country to fall in line with Illinois' law, likening it to California’s requirement about cancer-causing ingredient labeling.

“That often forces manufacturers or businesses that are looking to sell into that market to have to comply with that state standard,” he said.

Cullotta said a national standard would be preferred so that foods already produced aren’t breaking the new state law. Federal regulation would also mean businesses only had one regulation to follow regarding sesame product labeling. 

The Food and Drug Administration began asking for input last October about making sesame the ninth major allergen. 

A survey released in February shows sesame is the ninth most-common allergy in the nation.

Staff Writer

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.