Hot Dog Redesign May Curb Child Choking Incidents

Kim Conte

hot dogHot dogs, along with round hard candies, grapes, and peanuts, pose the greatest risk for choking in children. That's why the leading group of pediatricians is calling for a redesign of these common foods and/or warning labels on food packaging in an effort to prevent child choking incidents.

Can you even imagine what a redesigned hot dog would look like?

If choking is the most common cause of death among children age 1 to 5, then why in the world aren't there any regulations to help prevent choking due to food? There are plenty of laws that set safety regulations for toys. Is a toy as dangerous as a hot dog? I'm starting to wonder based on this information...

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, hot dogs account for 17 percent of food-related asphyxiations in children under the age of 10. This quote from a pediatrician with the AAP underlines how dangerous this food can be:

"If you were to take the best engineers in the world and asked them to design a perfect plug for a child's airway, you couldn't do better than a hot dog..."It's the right size, right shape. It's compressible so it wedges itself in. When they're in that tight [it's] almost impossible, even with the correct training and the correct equipment, to get out. When it's wedged in tightly, that child is going to die."

Suddenly, cutting food into small pieces seems like, well, not enough? Never have I ever felt such an urgent need for a square-shaped hot dog. Would you agree?

The AAP is bringing attention to this issue by 1) calling on food manufacturers to design safer foods and redesign existing high-risk foods, and 2) calling on the government to establish a mandatory food labeling system in which high-risk foods would come with appropriate warnings. But will this be enough to help prevent choking incidents in children? What more can be done?

Do you think safety regulations and warning labels can help to prevent choking incidents in children? Which foods should be regulated?

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