Feb 23, 2010 Post By: Children's Health

Choking hazards

When I’m in a rush at work, I tend to wolf down my food. I fail to heed mom’s advice to chew my food slowly and thoroughly before swallowing it. But, given a statement issued Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about possible choking hazards, I’ll try to be more mindful of how I eat.

Among the academy’s recommendations, published Feb. 22 in the journal Pediatrics, is the design of new foods to lessen choking hazards for children and the redesign of existing food to minimize the choking risk. It is the call for a redesign of foods that seems to be what the media is focusing on, specifically hot dogs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some alarming statistics about choking being a leading cause of death and injury to children, especially those under the age of 3. In addition to food, other frequent choking hazards are coins and candy and gum.

Hot dogs and sausages, however, have been around for thousands of years. Homer mentions them in The Odyssey in the 9th century B.C., according to the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council and the hot dog is at least 500 years old. What possible new shape could they take? And the AAP appears to acknowledge this issue when it says redesigns of food should be made “to the extent possible.”

The hot dog and sausage industry already has tried to address the issue of choking on hot dogs. More than half of hot dog packaging already contains tips about cutting up hot dogs into small, non-cylindrical pieces before feeding them to young children.

So I guess the real lesson is that when feeding young children food like hot dogs, grapes, and carrots, cut them up into small pieces until your children are old enough to eat those foods on their own. These commonsense precautions may help lessen the incidence of choking and keep hot dogs and sausages safe from the throes of redesign.