Hot Dogs…we love to eat them. Many would argue eating hot dogs is an American Tradition. Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is issuing a warning that hot dogs are a food choking hazard in small children. Yesterday, February 22nd, the AAP published a Policy Statement regarding such choking hazards, through the AAP’s Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention. The AAP has already made some broad-sweeping recommendations in regard to preventive measures and warnings. Some of their recommendations are quoted below from their Policy Statement:
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) should increase efforts to ensure that toys that are sold in retail store bins, vending machines, or on the Internet have appropriate choking-hazard warnings; work with manufacturers to improve the effectiveness of recalls of products that pose a choking risk to children; and increase efforts to prevent the resale of these recalled products via online auction sites. Current gaps in choking-prevention standards for children’s toys should be reevaluated and addressed, as appropriate, via revisions to the standards established under the Child Safety Protection Act, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, or regulation by the CPSC.
The existing National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program of the CPSC should be modified to conduct surveillance of choking on food among children. Food manufacturers should design new foods and redesign existing foods to avoid shapes, sizes, textures, and other characteristics that increase choking risk to children, to the extent possible. Pediatricians, dentists, and other infant and child health care providers should provide choking-prevention counseling to parents as an integral part of anticipatory guidance activities.
Many children lose their life every year from choking on food. The Associated Press published an article yesterday citing the horrifying statistics:
Choking kills more than 100 U.S. children 14 years or younger each year and thousands more – 15,000 in 2001 – are treated in emergency rooms. Food, including candy and gum, is among the leading culprits, along with items like coins and balloons. Of the 141 choking deaths in kids in 2006, 61 were food-related.
The article also mentions the tragic death of 4 year old Eric Stavros Adler, who died from choking on a hot dog.
The AP article cites the following as some recommendations:
Doctors say high-risk foods, including hot dogs, raw carrots, grapes and apples – should be cut into pea-sized pieces for small children to reduce chances of choking. Some say other risky foods, including hard candies, popcorn, peanuts and marshmallows, shouldn’t be given to young children at all.
Something as simple as making lollipops flat like a silver dollar instead of round like a pingpong ball can make a big difference, said Bruce Silverglade, legal affairs director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which also has lobbied for more attention to choking prevention.
Please, please, please…make sure your children are ‘eating safely’. Supervise your children when they are eating. Our precious little ones are irreplaceable. Don’t allow the shape and/or size of food to pose a life and death situation for you and your loved ones.