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Pediatricians Want Redesign of Hot Dogs, Candy to Curb Kids' Choking
Date:2/22/2010

New AAP policy also pushes for warning labels on packaging of high-risk foods

MONDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The leading group of pediatricians in the United States is pushing for a redesign of common foods such as hot dogs and candies, along with new warning labels placed on food packaging, to help curb sometimes fatal incidents of child choking.

"We know what shape, sizes and consistencies pose the greatest risk for choking in children and whenever possible food manufacturers should design foods to avoid those characteristics, or redesign existing foods when possible, to change those characteristics to reduce the choking risk," said Dr. Gary Smith, immediate-past chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention and lead author of the organization's new policy statement on preventing choking.

"Any food that has a cylindrical or round shape poses a risk," he pointed out. Smith said that hot dogs were high on the list of foods that could be redesigned -- perhaps the shape, although he said it would be up to the manufacturers to figure out the specifics.

Hard candies, on the other hand, could be designed so they're flat rather than round, said Smith, who is also director of the Center for Injury Research & Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The AAP policy statement appears in the March issue of Pediatrics and is the first such guidance on the subject from that group.

"There's a general recognition that more needed to be done to protect children from choking," according to Smith. "We have a number of laws and regulations that help prevent choking due to toys. There are no such similar regulations for food."

Health experts welcomed the suggestions.

"I think it's very reasonable to strengthen regulations to prevent choking injuries for children," said Dr. Lee Sanders, associate professor
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