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Pass the word - it's possible to choke on food

Categories: OpinionHealth

(but let's not create a Federal program out of it)

February 22, 2010

The Associate Press reported Sunday that the American Academy of Pediatrics wants to increase the amount of warning labels on foods because of the risks of children choking on those foods.

According to the report, there were 141 choking deaths in 2006, 61 were food-related.  Contrast that with the estimated 600 people struck by lightning in the U.S. each year.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of choking victims, particularly children, but do we really need to start new government programs to deal with what some percieve as an "under-appreciated problem", as Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio describes it?  (The correct answer is no.)  Smith wants to make choking prevention a priority for government and food makers.

Eric Adler choked to death on a piece of a hot dog in 2001.  His mother, Joan Stavros Adler, "never dreamed that the popular kids' food could be so dangerous."  A hot dog?  Dangerous?  I could be wrong, but there are very few inanimate objects that I feel threatened by.  Plutonium, yes, it's radioactive.  That's dangerous.  Flowing lava - it's very hot.  That's dangerous.  But a hot dog?  Are you kidding me?!

Adler, a Warren, N.J. attorney is pushing for more warning labels, and believes the Food and Drug Administration should work with other government agencies to establish a nationwide food-related choking reporting system; and to recall foods linked with choking.  Several efforts to pass federal legislation for labels have failed in Congress, according to the AP report.

"Doctors" (the report doesn't say which doctors) say "high-risk foods...should be cut into pea-sized pieces for small children to reduce chances of choking."  Some believe we should prohibit young children from eating such foods as hard candies, popcorn, peanuts, and marshmallows.

This story and the push to increase warning labels is a reaction to emotions.  A mother losing her young boy would undoubtedly be devastated and emotionally scarred.  Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who treat children after choking are probably emotionally affected as well.  To any reasonable, caring person, it's sad to see any child suffer in any way.  But accidents happen and those involved tend to go overboard in their efforts to see that "it never happens again".

This is the kind of unnecessary pressure placed on our legislators that prompt them to spend more tax dollars, which then requires them to take even more money from the rest of us to implement the programs that are intended to save the children.  And who doesn't want to save the children?

How 'bout if we leave parents alone, and let them raise their children and accept the risks and challenges associated with raising children.  If any parents are concerned about choking (and they needn't be - you have a far greater chance of being struck by lightning), they can nag their children ad infinitum, blend their children's food into a tasty beverage, and monitor their children's eating habits ad nauseum.

As for the rest of us, let's get back to reality.  It's possible to choke on anything you put into your mouth, particularly if you intend to swallow it.  That includes food.  Pass the word.

Let's stop asking the government to solve all the challenges we face in life.  My advice for parents and their children: Do yourselves a favor and try not to choke when you eat.


User Comments:
GA - Sep 30, 2010 12:01:01 — AMEN!!!!!!!

"If you can't say something nice, let's hear it!"   — Joan Rivers

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