Hot Dogs in Hot Water With Pediatricians

American Academy of Pediatrics wants wiener redesign to prevent choking

By Jenel Nels
|  Tuesday, Feb 23, 2010  |  Updated 8:35 AM CDT
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Would a square hot dog taste as good?

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They can build it. They have the technology. They have ... too much time on their hands?

The American Academy of Pediatrics says they're interested in designing a choke-proof hot-dog that won't be a hazard to children.

"If you were to design the perfect plug for a child's airway, you couldn't do much better than a hot dog," said Gary Smith, the policy's lead author and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, to news-medical.net.

In a policy statement, “Prevention of Choking Among Children,” the AAP recommends that food manufacturers “should design new food and redesign existing foods to avoid shapes, sizes, textures and other characteristics that increase choking risk to children.” 

The AAP also suggests more work be done to place warning labels on high risk foods in regard to choking.

The National Hot Dog & Sausage Council’s Janet Riley disputes the report. She says many hot dog packages have had labels addressing the issue for about 10 years. Speaking to WGN-AM radio’s Greg Jarrett, Riley put the solution in the home, suggesting that parents take the time to supervise their children while they eat, according to the Chicago Tribune.

But, the dog’s not the only food being barked at; the AAP also cites foods like hard candy, peanuts, whole grapes, popcorn, chunks of peanut butter and even toys and coins in its report.

"We have laws and regulations in this country that require warning labels to be placed on toys that pose choking hazards, and we have systems that monitor and recall consumer products that pose a risk," said Dr. Smith.

On average, a child will die every 5 days in the United States from choking on food, according to the news-medical.net.

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