Nutritionists have long warned of the dangers posed by consuming the All-American hot dog – excess fat, sodium and preservatives to name a few. Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics wants foods like hot dogs to come with a warning label — not because of their nutritional risks but because they pose a choking hazard to babies and children.
Better yet, the academy would like to see foods such as hot dogs “redesigned” so their size, shape and texture make them less likely to lodge in a youngster’s throat. More than 10,000 children under 14 go to the emergency room each year after choking on food, and up to 77 die, says the new policy statement, published online today in Pediatrics. About 17% of food-related asphyxiations are caused by hot dogs.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires labels on toys with small parts alerting people not to give them to kids under three years of age. Yet there are no required warnings on food, though more than half of non-fatal choking episodes involve food, according to the physicians’ group.
The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council supports the academy’s call to better educate parents and caregivers about choking prevention. But the organization questions whether warning labels are needed, asserting that more than half of hot dogs sold in stores already have choking-prevention tips on their packages, advising parents to cut them into small pieces.
The Food and Drug Administration, which has authority to recall products it considers “unfit for food,” plans to review the new statement, but recent issues with food safety demonstrate the lack of oversight provided by the agency.