By Nadja Popovich
America's pediatricians want to make sure your kids don't choke themselves to death.
In a policy statement issued today in Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention calls on the Food and Drug Administation and Consumer Product Safety Commission to tighten supervision over food and toys that may pose a hazard.
The paper warned that choking is a leading cause of death among children, especially those under 3 years old. The high risk comes from a combination of factors; not only do young children tend to put everything in their mouths, but their windpipe is about the same diameter as a drinking straw, according to the New York State Department of Health.
Among the new recommendations: making sure toys are safe and enforcing recalls of those that aren't, redesigning foods to avoid shapes and textures that make it easy to choke, and adding appropriate choking hazard warnings to both. According to the committee, latex balloons, coins, candies, and hot dogs pose the some of the biggest threats.
But it's the idea of a hot dog redesign that's whetted safety-advocates' appetites.
Hot dog makers aren't so thrilled. Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council told Shots that the hot dog's shape is "iconic -- it's what they're known for." The texture's a part of it too.
But beyond the aesthetic and oral considerations, she said that some hot dog brands, like Oscar Mayer, already post choke-warnings. She added that it's become "standard practice" for hot dogs and other potentially hazardous foods, like grapes, to be cut up into pieces for small children.
Still, the New York health department notes that hot dogs may be dangerous even if cut up, especially in "coin shape." Cut hot dogs down the long way, too, it recommends. Some other advice: small children should never be left alone while eating, parents should make sure their kids are eating appropriate food for their age, and sitting upright is a must. For the full list, check out their Web site.
Still, we couldn't help but wonder, what would a "redesigned" hot dog look like anyway? Well, here's at least one restaurant's take: the hot dog patty.