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

of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "The most common cause of death for kids aged roughly 1 to 5 is choking but it's also one of the most common reasons for visits to the emergency room and, for kids who don't die of these injuries, sometimes there are long-lasting injuries or implications," Sanders said. "It's a significant public health issue."

"People should know that grapes are a choking hazard for a certain-age child, that hot dogs are of risk," added Dr. Mike Gittelman, associate professor of clinical pediatrics in the division of emergency medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it would "carefully review the analysis and recommendations."

"The FDA is concerned about the deaths and serious injuries caused by choking," said agency spokeswoman Rita Chappelle. "We will also continue to consult with the Consumer Product Safety Commission on assessing choking hazards associated with food and take action against food products that are 'unfit for food' on a case-by-case basis."

Hot dogs are a prime offender, accounting for 17 percent of food-related asphyxiations in children under the age of 10, according to one study.

"If you were to take the best engineers in the world and asked them to design a perfect plug for a child's airway, you couldn't do better than a hot dog," Smith said. "It's the right size, right shape. It's compressible so it wedges itself in. When they're in that tight [it's] almost impossible, even with the correct training and the correct equipment, to get out. When it's wedged in tightly, that child is going to die."

Other high-risk foods include hard candy, peanuts and nuts, even peanut butter.

The policy statement called for the government to establish a "mandatory system . . . to label foods with appropriate warnings according to their choking risk, to conduct detailed surveillance and i
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