Hotdogs Called Hazardous to Children’s Health

Pediatricians say hotdogs are a choking hazard for childrenThe hotdog has become a center of controversy – not because of its fat, sodium or preservatives content – but because the American Academy of Pediatricians thinks the sausage should come with a label that warns of choking hazards for babies and children.

If that’s not possible, the academy would like to see hotdogs redesigned so their shape, size and texture make them less likely to get stuck in a child’s throat.  More than 10,000 children 14 and younger are treated in ERs every year after choking on food; as many as 77 die.  Approximately 17 percent of food-related asphyxiations are hotdog related.

“If you were to take the best engineers in the world and design the perfect plug for a child’s airway, it would be a hotdog,” said Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH.  “I’m a pediatric emergency doctor, and to try to get them out once they’re wedged in, it’s almost impossible.”  Smith notes that the Consumer Product Safety Commission requires labels on toys with small parts, but takes no position on foods, even though more than 50 percent of non-fatal choking incidents involve food.

The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council supports the academy’s plan to better educate parents about choking prevention.  According to council president Janet Riley, “As a mother who has fed toddlers cylindrical foods like grapes, bananas, hotdogs and carrots, I ‘redesigned’ them in my kitchen by cutting them with a paring knife until my children were old enough to manage on their own.”

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