As a choking hazard, hot dogs are the single most dangerous food in the average American child's diet, responsible for one of every six asphyxiation deaths in children age 10 and younger, according to Businessweek. Hot dogs have three strikes against them: their shape (cylindrical), size (a little less than 1 inch in diameter), and texture (smooth on the outside, compressible inside). In a 2010 policy statement, the American Academy of Pediatrics singled out hot dogs as an example of a food that should be redesigned or carry warning labels due to the high risk of choking. The group might have included sausage links, string cheese and marshmallows, all of which share the treacherous traits.
Meanwhile, caregivers can do their own redesign: Cut hot dogs and other tube-shaped food lengthwise into quarters, then crosswise to make strips. Cut marshmallows down to size likewise, using the 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch guideline.
The bottom line is: As long as kids will be kids, adults must be adults, so be vigilant about the safety and well-being of the young ones in their care.
More Great Links
- Bren, Linda. ""Prevent Your Child from Choking." (Sept. 14, 2010) http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/family/pre_choking/choking.htm
- Cornell University. "Top 10 choking foods for children under age 4." (Sept. 9, 2010) http://extendonondaga.org/Cce/choking%20foods.pdf
- Gardner, Amanda. "Pediatricians Want Redesign of Hot Dogs, Candy to Curb Kids' Choking." Businessweek. Feb. 22, 2010 (Sept. 13, 2010) http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/healthday/636245.html
- Keeler, Janet K. "America's Lunch." St. Petersburg Times Online. July 31, 2002. (Sept. 14, 2010) http://www.sptimesonline.com/2002/07/31/Taste/America_s_lunch.shtml
- New York Department of Health. "Choking Prevention for Children." Jan. 2009 (Sept. 9, 2010) http://www.health.state.ny.us/prevention/injury_prevention/choking_prevention_for_children.htm
- North Dakota Childcare Resource and Referral. "Preventing Choking in Young Children." (Sept. 14, 2010) http://www.ndchildcare.org/providers/health-safety/docs/Preventing%20Choking.pdf
- Tarkan, Laurie. "Labels Urged for Foods That Can Choke." New York Times. May 24, 2010. (Sept. 11, 2010) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/health/25choke.html?_r=1
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