The American Academy of Pediatrics is determined to tackle a major threat to the wellbeing of US kiddies: killer hot dogs which present a clear and present choking hazard.
According to a report (summary here) in the academy's journal Pediatrics, choking is "a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children, especially those aged 3 years or younger".
Specifically, choking kills 77 US children annually, while up to 15,000 more require emergency treatment. Of the total food-related chokings, roughly 17 per cent are caused by hot dogs.
Lead report author Gary Smith, main man at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, explained to USA Today: "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. I'm a paediatric emergency doctor, and to try to get them out once they're wedged in, it's almost impossible."
Accordingly, the academy recommends: "Food manufacturers should design new food and redesign existing food to minimize choking risk."
Smith admitted he "doesn't know exactly how someone would redesign a hot dog" but assured that "some savvy inventor will find a way".
Janet Riley, prez of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, insisted 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".
She noted: "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." ®