Pediatricians Propose Food Warnings For Child Choking Prevention

Pediatricians are pushing for new food labeling requirements, which they hope will cut down on the number of child choking deaths.

The proposed warning labels would target foods known to carry a high risk of causing children to choke, such as hot dogs, grapes, raw carrots, apples and peanuts. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that those foods and others make choking the leading cause of death among children under the age of 14. The group is pushing both for the new labeling and for a redesign or recall of foods known to easily choke children.

The AAP’s Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention has released a policy statement in the March issue of Pediatrics calling for child choking risk from food to be treated the same as choking risk from toys. The statement was published online on February 22, urging the FDA and U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to enact new regulations.

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“The US Food and Drug Administration should establish a systematic, institutionalized process for examining and addressing the hazards of food-related choking,” the AAP states. “This process should include the establishment of the necessary surveillance, hazard evaluation, enforcement, and public education activities to prevent food-related choking among children.”

The statement says that while the FDA should work with the CPSC, the Department of Agriculture, and other agencies, the FDA should have regulating authority.

According to the AAP, an average of one child every five days chokes to death on food in the U.S. In most cases, the pediatricians say, this is because the shape of the food allows it to get lodged in a child’s throat. Children under four are at the highest risk, because many of them lack molars to properly chew their food, doctors said.

Hot dogs are the most dangerous, due to their cylindrical shape, the AAP warns. Grapes, raw carrots, apples and peanuts also rank high. The AAP recommends that teachers and parents:

  • ever let small children run, play or lie down while eating
  • Avoid giving children high-risk foods, like hard candy, nuts and seeds
  • Cut grapes into quarters and cut hot dogs lengthwise to change the shape and minimize choking risk
  • Learn CPR and choking first aid.
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  • SteveFebruary 23, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Americans eat 20 billion hot dogs per year. Of that 20 billion, 117 cause choking. What other problem to we worry about that has only a 117 in 20 billion chance of occurring? Feed your kid a slice of bologna instead of a hot dog. They are equally unhealthy but the bologna has safer shape.

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