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Attack Dogs: An American Menace

Those fiendish, gelatinous sticks of death:

From usatoday.com:

Pediatricians call for a choke-proof hot dog

Nutritionists have long warned of the perils of hot dogs: fat, sodium and preservatives to name a few.

Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics wants foods like hot dogs to come with a warning label -- not because of their nutritional risks but because they pose a choking hazard to babies and children.

Better yet, the academy would like to see foods such as hot dogs "redesigned" so their size, shape and texture make them less likely to lodge in a youngster's throat. More than 10,000 children under 14 go to the emergency room each year after choking on food, and up to 77 die, says the new policy statement, published online today in Pediatrics. About 17% of food-related asphyxiations are caused by hot dogs.

"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," says statement author Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "I'm a pediatric emergency doctor, and to try to get them out once they're wedged in, it's almost impossible."

The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires labels on toys with small parts alerting people not to give them to kids under 3. Yet there are no required warnings on food, though more than half of non-fatal choking episodes involve food, Smith says.

"No parents can watch all of their kids 100% of the time," Smith says. "The best way to protect kids is to design these risks out of existence."

Though Smith says he doesn't know exactly how someone would redesign a hot dog, he's certain that some savvy inventor will find a way.

Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, supports the academy's call to better educate parents and caregivers about choking prevention. "Ensuring the safety of the foods we service to children is critically important for us," Riley says.

But Riley questions whether warning labels are needed. She notes that more than half of hot dogs sold in stores already have choking-prevention tips on their packages, advising parents to cut them into small 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," Riley says.

Yes, the accidental death of a child is a terrible thing.

(Hell, I drank a bottle of cream-rinse when I was five and swallowed a plastic, magnetic "K" from some alphabet set. I crapped out both.)

But, redesigning hot-dogs?

Out of the billions of hot-dogs eaten each year, by adults and children alike, there have been just under 14 child deaths from choking.

Kids eat. It is not an option. Some, regrettably, will choke on food, be it a hot-dog, or a sliced apple. Some will die.

Parents who are wise enough to engage in simple responsible behavior frequently cut up food for their children. Many probably already do this with hot-dogs, too.

This "suggestion" not only reeks of obsessive nanny-state activism, but it also introduces the possibility of some ambulance-chasing lawyers to persuade relatives of potential victims to sue hot-dog companies in an effort to litigate grief into anger.

Sometimes, tragedy has no one to blame.

Bad things happen. Accidents happen. Even to children.

We should protect them in as sensible a way as possible.

Perhaps instead of a label warning of the possible choking hazards of hot-dogs, the label should discourage stupid parents from buying them.

Reason wastes away with every passing day.


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Comments (26)

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny... (Below threshold)
Andrew X:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

C.S. Lewis

These people will never stop. NEVER. I know these people. They will never never never never never never NEVER stop. Never.

Rush Limbaugh

grind it all up into a grue... (Below threshold)

grind it all up into a gruel ... yes, the drowning risk increases but the hot dog risk goes down ...
of course the spoon may be an issue as well ...
ok, have them use their hands ... but then they have to wash their hands ... hmmm ... a small bar of soap ... ANOTHER CHOKING RISK ...
just lock them in a closet and feed them their gruel thru a tube, its the only way to be sure ...

these people are so smart, thank god they can think for us ...

When my son was very young,... (Below threshold)

When my son was very young, he got some cat food stuck up his nose.

Why aren't they studying that?

Choke-proof hot dog?<... (Below threshold)

Choke-proof hot dog?

I'm waiting for a gag-proof newspaper.

"(Hell, I drank a bottle of... (Below threshold)

"(Hell, I drank a bottle of cream-rinse when I was five and swallowed a plastic, magnetic "K" from some alphabet set. I crapped out both.)"

Hell, I swallowed a missing link from a hot wheel track and still have no clue where it went?

Odd. They don't m... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:


They don't mind abortion but worry about choking on hot dogs? Sounds like it's control they care about, not the kids.

On the mean side, this could be a business opportunity:

Hey Mom! Those darn kids driving you
crazy again? Wish you could just get rid
of 'em with some kind of, ohhhhhh,

Now you can! Just buy a pack of Chef Sikky's
Darwin Dogs,
serve 'em up for dinner
and leave your kids unattended!

You know that's gonna appeal to some of them!

I know some people who's tw... (Below threshold)
Michael K.:

I know some people who's two year old daughter choked to death on popcorn. Both parents are doctors.

Should we legislate G-d into redesigning popcorn?

My son once started choking... (Below threshold)

My son once started choking on a grape. Do the good doctors propose that "nature" redesign" the grape?

There are 'idiots' and then there are "IDIOTS". The second are usually distinguishable by having an 'advanced degree'.

The ER doctor said it is "a... (Below threshold)

The ER doctor said it is "almost impossible". He used to be an OB/GYN until he told some woman she was "a little" pregnent.

I just love the nuances people put in articles to give them "safe" cover should they be called on it. "I didn't say it was impossible, just almost impossible". Putz. Parents, take care of your kids the best way you know how. If by some unfortunate accident you lose a child, that is tragic, but at least you know you did the best you could. If you expect to raise your children in a "risk free" world, well, the cannot happen. ww

There's a "National Hot Dog... (Below threshold)

There's a "National Hot Dog & Sausage Council"?

BTW - hilarious comments :)

Of all the ignorant things ... (Below threshold)

Of all the ignorant things to waste time on~

I drank Breck shampoo...I thought it was honey(ugh)

I played with Lawn darts with my three older brothers and four older sisters(and one younger)

I ice skated on the ditches of Ohio

I perched upon the seats while driving and sometimes rested in the back ledge and watched the cars behind us

I had a B-B gun, later a 22, and survived

I drank from any kids lawn hose when we were playing outside

and ate eggs, meat, and dairy many times a day...and survived

heck, I survived when teachers were allowed and were encouraged to use capital punishment. I have had my hand smacked with rulers, and had the wooden paddle administered twice in my schooling years(and once was in the seventh grade).

Oh and with all my siblings on the Fourth of July roasted hotdogs over the fire and ran around with sparklers until they petered out.

I am for why on earth this is the focus. I am not belittling the deaths of those who choked, but I am certain that based on typical household accidental deaths that this cannot be too high.

But it's for the chil... (Below threshold)

But it's for the children, Jennifer. If you take the slant that one preventable death per year is too many - then you can justify spending absolutely incredible amounts of time, effort, and money to eradicate that one death per year.

I'm not sure such an argument is valid, based on my own experiences with time, effort, and compliance rates getting large numbers of people to do things - but that seems to be the standard.

It is truly a miracle that ... (Below threshold)

It is truly a miracle that many of us are alive today. We didn't have liberals protecting us from murder by hot dog when we grew up.

Why not increase the diamet... (Below threshold)

Why not increase the diameter? Then you could sell them both as a safe food and a sex toy.

The ads write themselves - ... (Below threshold)

The ads write themselves - "Moms love jumbo dogs"

We are at risk of raising c... (Below threshold)

We are at risk of raising children who have never had to think of the consequences. They are not allowed to play on monkey bars (possible falls), they cannot play red rover (possible pushing), and everybody wins at sports.

They are protected and coddled until they grow into young adults and their reasoning has never matured to the point where they think that the world might be a dangerous place.

The consequences of mistakes and risky behavior at twenty has the potential to be at least as bad as a choking incident.

Damn Roy, you beat me to it... (Below threshold)

Damn Roy, you beat me to it, though they might need to make them a little more firm and less prone to shrinkage...

Hey liberals...how about NO... (Below threshold)

Hey liberals...how about NOT buying them if your worried about it.

But let me decide for myself whether I want to enjoy them.

Could this redesign get pas... (Below threshold)

Could this redesign get past Kevin Jennings, the safe schools czar?

"heck, I survived when teac... (Below threshold)
Andrew X:

"heck, I survived when teachers were allowed and were encouraged to use capital punishment."

Well, that'd damn sure keep unruly classrooms in line, I gotta admit.....

Woulda got my attention!


How instead a stupid proof... (Below threshold)

How instead a stupid proof pediatric wanko who dont make dumb suggestions like this

~Oh I wish I were an Oscar ... (Below threshold)

~Oh I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, that is what I truly wish to be, for if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, everyone would choke to death on Me`

When I was a kid in 1980 or... (Below threshold)

When I was a kid in 1980 or so they recalled Colonial Viper from the old TV show Battlestar Galactica, the years hot toy, after a small child choked on the bullet that shot out the front. When it was re-issued it was a wussed down version and the bullet only shot out 1/4 of an inch or so.
My children now have hit the Bakugan Craze and when I first saw them, I thought choking hazard for the one year old, and I was very militant about having them out of the hands of the youngest. Now I have mellowed out some as they have gotten older, no they do not pick up the toys any better, but I realized that there were better things for me to worry about.
If you feel the hot dogs are dangerous, take a knife a make a slice down the middle, and tell the kids hey I just made a place to put the ketchup so it will stay on the hot dog.

Does anyone else remember t... (Below threshold)

Does anyone else remember those grape- and strawberry-scented markers designed for grade school kids? I think there was one in orange, too.

There was always some idiot who would stick the business end up his nose and have to be forcibly de-markered by the school nurse.

I bet scented markers are next on the list, once the Hot Dog Menace has been stamped out. Such a pity that future generations will be denied the fun of teasing the crap out of some kid with purple- and orange-rimmed nostrils.

It's kinda true though...wh... (Below threshold)

It's kinda true though...when I was 10 I did in fact choke on a piece of hot dog. I got very lucky that I managed to expel it out (unsure how to this day)

But to redesign.....nah

"They are protected a... (Below threshold)
John S:

"They are protected and coddled until they grow into young adults and their reasoning has never matured to the point where they think that the world might be a dangerous place."

I see this "there are no wrong answers" generation waiting for the school bus every morning. Actually they wait in the back of the parent's idling SUV lest they catch a chill. This generation is in for a real shock when they finally graduate from college at age 36 and try to get their first job. In the real world there are wrong answers. In fact almost every goddamn answer is the wrong one.

In a way, I'm glad. After the Obama administration seizes and spends my life savings (promising me an unfunded annuity in its place), I'm gonna need to work to age 90. Thank god this next generation will be completely unemployable. I wouldn't want them taking either of the two minimum wage jobs I'll need to get by.






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