Redesign hot dogs to be chokeproof?

The American Academy of Pediatrics is waging war against the hot dog – not because of its terrible nutrition value, but because of its potential to choke small kids.

The Academy would like to see a choking hazard label placed on hot dog packaging. Or even better, it would like to see foods like hot dogs redesigned so their size, shape and texture would be less likely to catch in a child’s throat.

According to an article in USA Today:

“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.”

” ‘If you were to take the best engineers in the world and try to design the perfect plug for a child’s airway, it would be a hot dog,’ says statement author Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. ‘I’m a pediatric emergency doctor, and to try to get them out once they’re wedged in, it’s almost impossible.’ “

Smith points out The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires labels on toys that are potential choking hazards but there’s no equivalent for food.

Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, says she supports more education for parents but:

“… Riley questions whether warning labels are needed. She notes 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. ‘As a mother who has fed toddlers cylindrical foods like grapes, bananas, hot dogs 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,’ Riley says.”

Here is a gallery of top choking hazards for kids.

So what do you think: Should there be choking warning labels on hot dogs or other similar foods like grapes or carrots? Should the hot dogs be redesigned? (What would you do with it?)

Should it just be up to the parents to take the time to prepare the food in such a way to make it less dangerous to their kids? (Or up to the parents to just not buy it?)

Have you ever had a child choke on a hot dog? Did you/do you cut them up? Up until what age?

104 comments Add your comment

Becky

February 22nd, 2010
1:54 pm

@Dirtman..That would be nice if some people would do that..But in the real world it doesn’t happen..

@Jeff in Roswell..The McDonalds lawsuit was someone being just out and out STUPID..I know thats my opinion..

julia

February 22nd, 2010
2:04 pm

This again is stupid people should not reproduce… Some of the stuff they recall or have to put warning labels on there because some one did it.. Like the blind strings.. Really why in the world would some one put the crib in reach???

joel rosser

February 22nd, 2010
2:08 pm

I am so sorry the child choked, but I am having a hard time figuring out what the Government is supposed to do to to prevent it from happening again. Should it require lables stating: Before serving to small children cut into 1/4 inch bites not to exceed 1/4 inch in diameter? Not to sound harsh, but perhaps the parents of small children need to assume a little responsibility and think about these things in advance. I am in my seventies and remember my mother cutting my food into little bitty bites before she served it to me. Again, I am sorry, but at some point people are going to have to take personal responsibilty and let the government govern matters it was set up to do.

Mopsy

February 22nd, 2010
2:11 pm

Many years ago I world in a large ob/gyn office. We actually had two patients that had toddlers choke to death on hotdogs. The problem is usually the casing is so tough they are not always able to chew it sufficiently, much like if an adult takes to large a bite of tough meat or happens to get fat or gristle and get choked. Hotdogs are so easy for children to eat and they tend to love them but cutting them where they are not round or even peeling the casing off is a life saver.

Thera

February 22nd, 2010
2:17 pm

Even with five adults sitting around her my niece (about 5 at the time) put an entire shoestring french fry into her mouth and nobody noticed. With a distressed look on her face she stood up and basically regurgitated the whole thing onto her plate! Sometimes children don’t chew properly. Sometimes adults don’t chew properly, either. We all get in a hurry or aren’t paying attention and accidents happen. We can’t change these foods because a small precentage of people die every year. It is tragic but we should slow down when we eat and pay attention to our little ones (and not so little ones) when they eat. Alter the size and shape yourself. Don’t expect the government to do it.

New Stepmom

February 22nd, 2010
2:21 pm

With a baby due in May, this is good information to know because I hate hotdogs and have not eaten one in probably 25 years and would not really think about it. However, the gov’t getting involved is absurd. The AAP should use PR to get this message out. Because I am about to be a first time mom to an infant, I talk a lot to other moms and go to blogs/websites like this to get this type of information. If the gov’t gets involved I am much more likely to ignore it as bureaucratic BS than if the information is disseminated through the mommy network.

LibraryJim

February 22nd, 2010
2:22 pm

Mopsy, there are a number of Hot Dog brands that do not have casings, or use no fillers. They might be more money, but often one can get them on B.O.G.O. sales and freeze them (they last quite a long time). That would solve the problem in your scenarios without government intervention.

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 22nd, 2010
2:22 pm

I may be out on a limb out here, but somehow I doubt that every choking incident is because of a stupid or negligent parent. I doubt even most would go under that category. They’re accidents, and accidents happen. I get the expressions of dismay at suggesting the hot dog industry should re-design hot dogs, but to extend that to some kind of assumption that when choking does happen, the parents were stupid, irresponsible people seems a bit harsh if you ask me.

mike

February 22nd, 2010
2:36 pm

Redesign the hot dog? I have an idea! Make the hot dog super jumbo sized so it can be cut into slices and made into a sandwich… oh wait, that’s bologna.

Darwin

February 22nd, 2010
2:39 pm

Put simply, parents who can’t teach their children to chew properly before swallowing, should not be allowed to have their gene pool continued. In the same sense, children who choke on bites that big are obviously not smart enough to live. Natural selection people, natural selection.

julia

February 22nd, 2010
2:41 pm

My bologna has a first name, its OSCAR. My bologna has a second name its Mayer. How does the rest of that go???

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 22nd, 2010
2:49 pm

@Darwin….kids who choke deserve to die. Nice. I love cutting edge humor…just wish your statement contained some.

HB

February 22nd, 2010
3:05 pm

I agree with those that say warnings labels are not the only way of getting the word out, and sure spreading information through doctor visits and blogs are great additional measures to take. But here’s the thing — you can’t make all doctors tell their patients’ parents and you can’t be sure that all moms are reading blogs (or even have access to the internet). Here’s a pretty safe bet, though — people consuming the hot dogs (or preparing them for their children) at some point have the packaging in their hands! A redesign may be asking too much, but why not warn about the risk and/or include choking prevention tips on the package? Same with venetian blinds. Clearly, since a significant number of kids are getting hurt, not everyone knows these things, and the packaging is an ideal place for that information. That’s not blaming the company for accidents that involve their products — it’s just giving parents the heads-up to keep an eye out for something they might not have thought of that has harmed many other children.

Becky

February 22nd, 2010
3:21 pm

@Julia..Oh, I love to eat it everyday and if you ask me why, I’ll say, cause Oscar Mayer has a way with B O L O G N A..

julia

February 22nd, 2010
3:42 pm

HB, I guess it just comes down to common sense… No one told me I had to not put the crib in reach of the blind…

I guess common sense is a gift that has died..

The reason they have these warning labels is because some moron as done it…. Hmm dry your hair in the tub or the shower…….. dont put the garbage bag on your head………………….

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 22nd, 2010
3:46 pm

@julia…left the childs door open resulting in death by smoke inhalation……

mike

February 22nd, 2010
3:48 pm

I know! We can start putting the hot dogs behind the meat counter/deli and have those buying read and sign a warning disclaimer before the hot dogs are released. Maybe even be given “frequent hot dog consumer cards” for those that don’t want to have to go through the hassle of reading and signing the release document before getting their “danger dogs” BOOM! problem solved!! lol

julia

February 22nd, 2010
3:48 pm

every time I think about the water / hair dryer thing I go back to the movie What Women Want :)

Tiger, Me?? yep I did and would do it again

julia

February 22nd, 2010
3:50 pm

Mike before you can buy them you have to sign a disclaimer saying you take full responsibility of eating it properly

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 22nd, 2010
3:51 pm

@julia…..just agreeing with you that common sense is a lost gift.

julia

February 22nd, 2010
3:52 pm

DB hand them a pack of zots and a soda!! :)

Jeff in Roswell

February 22nd, 2010
3:52 pm

Huh haaa! Err Der.. Comma cents? What dat?

julia

February 22nd, 2010
3:57 pm

Tiger if I shut his door now he flips out…. :)

Becky

February 22nd, 2010
3:58 pm

@Julia..Common sense isn’t so common anymore..

Tiger needs me on his PR team

February 22nd, 2010
4:04 pm

We pick and choose our common sense. Common sense to one may not seem so common or sensical to the other.

what the?

February 22nd, 2010
4:14 pm

hot dogs are only a choking hazard if you don’t chew. that’s pretty much the case with every food ever. I guess we need warning labels on everything.

Overit

February 22nd, 2010
4:23 pm

Rather than depending on the governemnt to do something about it how about parents actually do it themselves. If the kids are small cut it up to smaller pieces with a knife. If your kid can’t chew peoperly, teach them. Our governemtn has bigger issues to worry about than making food companies change their products shape. Common sense must not exist any more. I have two kids in their teens, and the both survived hot dogs, grapes, carrots, and any other food that may be a choking hazard.

george washington

February 22nd, 2010
4:24 pm

This country is just one big wus train.

LibraryJim

February 22nd, 2010
4:29 pm

HOT DOGS, Ar-mour HOT DOGS
What kind of kids love Ar-mour HOT DOGS?
Big kids, lit-tle kids, kids who climb on rocks
fat kids, skin-ny kids, ev-en kids with chicken pox
love HOT DOGS, Ar-mour HOT DOGS
The dogs kids love to bite!

Oh I wish I were an Os-car Mayer Wie – ner
That is what I’d tru-ly like to be
’cause if I were an Os-car May-er Wie – ner
Ev-ery one would be in love with me.

Oh, I’m glad I’m not an Oscar Mayer Wiener
That is what I never want to be
‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener
There would be nothing left of me!

CT Hill

February 22nd, 2010
4:29 pm

Where’s Doc Graham when you need him?

julia

February 22nd, 2010
4:36 pm

Here is a LACK of common sense for you… My ex husband had the boy this weekend. He just turned 14 and this is not 1960. He let him drive his car… My first thought was too bad a cop did not see you because you could have been hauled off to jail, but you better freaking thank your maker he did not some how wreck the car and kill you both. This was done on a road and not a parking lot…. Sue me, I am an over protective mom on somethings…. I will also say that next year he will NOT be getting his learners premit!

Jeff

February 22nd, 2010
4:43 pm

EVERY FOOD IS A CHOKING HAZARD!!!

RJ

February 22nd, 2010
4:53 pm

I would like to know how many adults choked on hot dogs during the same time period analyzed for the children that did so. I’m pretty sure the number would surpass the childrens. I know I have choked several times on various foods. Reminds me of my mother always saying chew with your mouth closed … I assumed it was for proper etiquette, but now I wonder if it wasn’t really to stop me from taking the big breaths in through my mouth with it was full of food :) lol.

FCM

February 22nd, 2010
5:05 pm

Is it nostalgia commecial day?

“The world looks mighty good to me
‘cause Tootsie Rolls are all I see

Whatever it is I think I see
Becomes a Tootsie Roll to me

Tootsie Roll how I love your chocolatey chew
Tootsie Roll I think I’m in love with you

Whatever it is I think I see
Becomes a Tootsie Roll to me”

I’ll betcha dollars to donuts that Tootsies are choking hazards too!

FCM

February 22nd, 2010
5:07 pm

RJ–adults are more likely to choke due to inappropriate behaviors (laughing or talking) while eating than just normal consumption. Children are more likely than adults to choke from just swallowing but I did not find figures as to how much is just swallowing. My guess (assumption?) is that the inappropriate behaviors are higher among kids than adults. Ergo children choking is not so much from what they eat but what they are doing while they eat.

Leigh

February 22nd, 2010
5:13 pm

Umm, isn’t anything that is meant to be eaten a choking hazard? I mean…you put it in your mouth and swallow it, hopefully with some chewing thrown in there. If you can swallow it you can choke on it. Duh.

Teach your kids how to take appropriately sized bites and to actually chew their food. Safer for them in the long run and it’s just good manners anyways.

JAM

February 22nd, 2010
5:55 pm

So it’s come to this has it? Sad…so, so, sad.

Pi$$onaDawg

February 22nd, 2010
6:30 pm

If girls and guy boy can’t eat a hotdog then how can they learn to give good HEAD? SWALLOW don’t Spit.

Pi$$onaDawg

February 22nd, 2010
6:32 pm

Sorry GAY boys. I guess Bananna’s and cucumbers are dangerous too.

Seriously?

February 22nd, 2010
7:07 pm

This is just plain stupid and thats all there is to it. Leave hot dogs alone, theyre deliscious and dont need to be changed

Edwin

February 22nd, 2010
7:38 pm

Sure! Let’s redesign the hotdog … and while were at it let’s re-engineer bananas, carrots, grapes, cucumbers, & eggplants. Let’s not forget lollipops, gumballs, marshmallows. Why don’t we shove these things down the throats of these pediatricians and shut them up for good!

motherjanegoose

February 22nd, 2010
7:42 pm

I think they should ban pennies…..LOL…When my son was 2 he found a stray penny and popped it in his mouth. I was on the phone with my 70 year old neighbor and glanced at him to see that he was turning blue. I knew something was lodged in there but not sure what it was. I performed the Heimlich on him and the penny shot out like a bullet. Scary and true story!

Perhaps make parents watch a video, in the pediatrician’s office about safe procedures with children. Also require First Aid and CPR.

When I share my insect program, I tell the children that if they have a can of Coke/ Sprite and leave it on the picnic table while playing outside or swimming in the pool, to press it to their belly button and blow hard into the can before they take a drink. Insects such as bees have been known to crawl into sweet soda cans and if a child takes a drink they can sting the child in the mouth or be swallowed. We practice not blowing close to your mouth as the bee will crawl right onto your lip.

One thing about having kids…just when you think you have seen it all…something else happens!

motherjanegoose

February 22nd, 2010
7:44 pm

FYI…if you blow into the soda can this will stir the insect up and it will try to fly out. Blow and put the can away from your face….to make sure the can is empty.

What

February 22nd, 2010
7:45 pm

What’s to be sympathetic toward? That the child died, yes. But not this “cause”. Children can choke on anything. They will be able to choke on whatever form hot dogs take. Instead of dealing with the issue (the parents’ education and the prohibitive costs and scheduling obstacles of child first aid classes, which around here are almost $100 and scheduled maybe once a month), they go for the course that only appears to deal with the issue. Even though it doesn’t. But it acts as a security blanket to soothe their fears, so they don’t really care if it’s not truly effective or reasonable.

LB

February 22nd, 2010
7:47 pm

I had a serious choking incident with a hotdog when I was six. Fortunately my mom saved me. Lot of ignorant comments here (surprise surprise) discounting the opinion of pediatricians who know what they’re talking about. Many pediatricians will also correctly point out that your shouldn’t be feeding your kids (or anybody for that matter) packaged meats. I’m not saying be vegetarian, I’m saying stop eating garbage.

clearvoice

February 22nd, 2010
8:22 pm

They should be redesigned in the shape of a dairy-air. This way when the group who proposed the change and the dumb illiterate parents who don’t understand will know the new package is meant for them.

Semler

February 22nd, 2010
8:57 pm

Children should be breast fed until the age of 35.

Steve

February 23rd, 2010
12:31 am

More of the Wussification of America. What will the Gov’t want next, all food diced/chopped/pureed for everyone?

Parents – use some g**d*** common sense!! We taught our 9-year-old from the time he started getting solids to CHEW HIS FOOD!!!!!!!!!! Geez, what next?? What we need warning labels on is knee-jerk “watchdogs” who are out to serve their personal agendas.

Two hot dogs please. Extra chili and mustard, hold the onions. Varsity, here I come!!!

Scared

February 23rd, 2010
1:12 am

It is human nature when we hear of a tragedy to begin constructing reasons why it could never happen to us. “I teach my kids to chew,” “if you’re kid can’t chew it’s natural selection,” etc. Sadly, by doing so we often lose opportunities to improve our attention to potential dangers like choking on a particular food. More helpful would be to say, “Wow, that’s tragic, I’ll make sure I don’t give small kids whole hot dogs from now on to avoid future tragedies” but that type of critical thinking is unfortunately in short supply around these parts, if these comments are indicative of anything…

Fred

February 23rd, 2010
4:06 am

Natural selection at work……………..