The American Academy of Pediatrics, the nation’s leading pediatricians’ group, is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to require warning labels on foods that are known choking hazards, and to evaluate and monitor food for safety. The Academy says that food should be subject to monitoring in the same way as toys.
Children under 4 are particularly at risk because their airways are small and also because they are just developing their eating abilities. While front teeth grown in around 6 to 7 months, molars don’t come in until around 15 months. Young babies can bite off the end of a hotdog, but then can not chew it, creating a choking hazard. This also creates a situation where a parent may not be aware of the danger since the baby has successfully done some part of the chewing.
Parents should take CPR and emergency training so they can handle infant choking incidents, but this new initiative is a good step to reminding parents of food dangers. For example 2/3 of hot dogs sold have warnings on the labels, alerting food preparers to swallowing dangers.
Some child-safety advocates even suggest that foods that present a choking hazard be taken off the market. Others are marketing products such as the Guard Dog, that puts big slits in the side of a hot dog to make it less of a choking risk.
While initiatives like this may seem like governmental overreach to some, try telling that to someone who has lost a child to a choking incident. Warning labels seem like a small price ot pay to make sure parents are more aware of choking hazards, especially on foods, unlike hot dogs, that may be more risky.