Is Your Hot Dog Trying To Kill You?

If you’re eating a hot dog, or thinking about eating a hot dog, you may want to know this. The American Academy of Pediatrics thinks your frankfurter is a choking hazard and it should be packaged with a warning label. They also want some brainpower invested in redesigning the tasty treats so as to make them less deadly.

According to the Academy’s study published over the weekend, kids choking on food results in about 10,000 emergency room visits every year. About 77 of those end in death. And in about 17% of cases, hot dogs are the culprit.

“If you were to take the best engineers in the world and try to design the perfect plug for a child’s airway, it would be a hot dog,” Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, wrote in a statement. “I’m a pediatric emergency doctor, and to try to get them out once they’re wedged in, it’s almost impossible.”

Because food accounts for around 60% of all non-fatal choking cases in children, the study suggest that there be mandatory labeling of foods that could get trapped in a child’s airway.

Taking it a step further, Dr. Smith says, “The best way to protect kids is to design these risks out of existence.”

In response to the call for warning labels and hot dog re-engineering, Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, pointed out that most hot dog packages in the U.S. already advise parents to chop up hot dogs into more easily swallowed pieces.

“As a mother who has fed toddlers cylindrical foods like grapes, bananas, hot dogs and carrots, I ‘redesigned’ them in my kitchen by cutting them with a paring knife until my children were old enough to manage on their own,” she said.

We’d love to hear your suggestions for the safer hot dog. If you have a good idea, send me an e-mail. Who knows… it might end up on Consumerist.

Pediatricians call for a choke-proof hot dog [USA Today]