In the US, every day, 34 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for choking on food . Every year over 12,000 children under the age of 14 survive food choking incidents, 60% of the kids treated are under age 4. Hard candies are the biggest culprits followed by other candies, meat, and bones.
We have done a good job labeling toys for age appropriateness and noting small pieces as choking hazards, but the same comprehensive education message has not reached parents when it comes to food.
Food producers can redesign food shapes and sizes to make them less hazardous. A good example is the lollipop with a looped handle rather than a straight stick. Grapes, grape tomatoes, and nuts, common choking hazards can simply be cut in half. Hot dogs or sausages should be cut in half lengthwise; this eliminates the cylindrical shape that can block a child’s throat.