On a spring day about 15 years ago my son and I were sitting at a picnic table at the Hindley Happening, a local school fair, and he was choking on a hot dog. One minute he was admiring the stuffed animal won at the ring toss game, and the next he was turning blue.
He recovered, I didn’t.
So I read with interest this morning that the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a new policy statement, is urging that food safety for children meet the same standards as toys. They are recommending more stringent warning labels on foods that are known choking hazards, like hot dogs.
As a NY Times article today points out,
“You have a SuperBall that by government regulation has to carry warnings telling people it’s a risk to young children and you can’t market it to them, yet you can have the same identical shape and size gumball and there are no restrictions or requirements,” said Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, the lead author of the pediatricians’ policy statement on food hazards.”
There is even a move to redesign the hazardous foods themselves. Food designer Eugene D. Gagliardi Jr., who invented Steak-umms and popcorn chicken, was given a patent number 5,069,914, for a hot dog that reduces the chance of choking. It looks the same in the package, but has eight deep slits that open when cooked, causing it to break apart into small pieces when eaten.
Apparently the FDA is reviewing their current policy, based on the new pediatric guidelines, and was considering steps to help prevent further deaths.
Here are a couple other links to information,
A Time magazine column
Here is the policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics
A Pediatric Journal study on the 10 food products with the highest choking risk. These include, hot dogs, peanuts, carrots, boned chicken, candy, meat, popcorn, fish with bones, sunflower seeds and apples.
I know some might be deeply skeptical. I just hope you don’t share my experience of that sunny Saturday morning.