Popcorn Kills Kids: Should Foods Have Warning Labels?


Flickr photo by veggiefrog
Choking is the leading cause of death and injury among children, especially those under the age of 4.

In 2001, about 17,500 children were treated in emergency rooms for choking; 60 percent of those incidents were caused by food.

Kids under 4 are at the highest risk -- they have small airways and fewer chewing teeth (first molars, which grind food down, don't come in until about 15 months; second molars around 26 months).

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants to do something about it.

The AAP says that food should be subject to as much scrutiny as toys, and wants the FDA to require mandatory warning labels on foods that are known choking hazards. It's also asking manufacturers to redesign hot dogs.

The 10 foods that pose the highest choking risk:

  1. Hot dogs
  2. Peanuts
  3. Carrots
  4. Boned chicken
  5. Candy
  6. Meat
  7. Popcorn
  8. Fish with bones
  9. Sunflower seeds
  10. Apples

Foods that should not be given to children under 5:

  1. Marshmallows
  2. Peanuts
  3. Popcorn
  4. Raw carrots
  5. Hard candy
  6. Gumballs

The AAP also provides choking prevention safety tips for parents.

Do you think foods should have warning labels?


food, safety


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

LoriA... LoriAnn87

Hot dogs have a warning label on them but any foods that don't have one should epscially if a child can chok on them. Whenever I get my son any food I make sure I'm always watching or or it's cut up small enough so he can't chok.

jeann... jeannesager

I guess I don't see what the warning label is going to do. If parents don't have common sense enough to avoid giving their kids a choking hazard, are they going to read the warning label and heed it?

I see kids with age-inappropriate toys all the time; and there ARE labels on those.

Jesse... JessecaLynn

I think parents just need to use their freaking brains.  We can put warning labels on everything, because almost everything can be a choking hazard, but a little common sense will go a long way!

Carey... Carey2006

Not sure about warning labels but some kind of awareness would be nice....especially considered I've given my under 5 child the following:

  1. Marshmallows (Is that ALL or just mini???)

  2. Peanuts

  3. Popcorn

  4. Raw carrots

tonya... tonyalynn

ive given my girls some of the foods listed, and they have done fine

nonmember avatar SKL

Come on . . . anybody over the age of 8 who doesn't know that babies and little kids can choke on almost anything they can stuff in their mouths . . . .

How about these guidelines:

- Supervise your baby, particularly when he's eating.  Never met a kid who didn't either eat something he shouldn't have, or choke (briefly) on something innocuous.  You need to be there so you can reach in and pull it out when that happens.

- Cut up your baby/toddler's food until you can safely:

- Tell / remind your child to "chew and swallow" and not to stuff his face.

- Make your kid sit and eat in a place where his eating can be reasonably regulated.  Don't let him run around with candy in his mouth or eat while you're whizzing down the freeway.

My kids have had no problems eating those foods listed.  I do make it a point to say "chew and swallow" when they eat nuts and seeds - because I have a kid who scarfs food too fast.

My first and worst "choking" incident was with a tortilla chip that I had broken into very small pieces.  I heard the sounds of distress, came to investigate, swept her mouth/throat, and that was the end of that.  I don't think I've served tortilla chips again, though.

So in short, no, I don't think foods need to be labeled.  It's overkill.  The more you warn, the less people will pay attention to the warnings.  And seriously, you shouldn't have to tell parents to be careful what their tots put in their mouths.

maine... mainemusicmaker

I'm with SKL here.  We've become a nation of frickin' warning labels.  COMMON SENSE.  That's all anyone needs.  Redesign the hotdog? Into WHAT?  How about cutting your child's food up and supervising them while eating? 

Erin Emery Perkins

All marshmallows can be a hazard. It happens rarely, but it does happen: if a child chokes on one, it can and most likely will liquefy in the lungs. Take it from someone whose family was devastated by a marshmallow.

1-8 of 8 comments