Grand Engineering Challenge of Our Era: A Non-Lethal Hot Dog

By Smriti Rao | February 23, 2010 3:35 pm

HotdogPediatricians have declared that the trusty ol’ hot dog is in need of a makeover, setting the stage for one of the biggest engineering challenges known to man and causing some to worry, “Is it the end of the hot dog as we know it?”

The cylindrical sausage has been deemed a choking hazard by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which published an official statement on choking risks in the journal Pediatrics that included concerns about the snack clogging a child’s wind pipe. The pediatricians pointed out that 17 percent of all food-related asphyxiations among children are caused by hot dogs.

Talking about the proposal for a choke-proof hot dog, a doctor explains 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,” 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.”

But Smith admitted that he doesn’t know how the sausage could be redesigned to be safer, adding somewhat lamely that he’s “certain that some savvy inventor will find a way.”

The doctors didn’t just suggest that the wiener needs a design re-think, they also asked that the snack come with a warning label. But the hot dog redesign debate got, uh, hotter when the president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, Janet Riley, retorted that most of the sausage packages sold in stores already come with some sort of a warning label, advising parents to cut the hot dogs into small pieces before feeding them to their kids.

And then pediatrician Alan Greene, author of Feeding Baby Green, found a bigger fault with the pediatricians’ concerns over the high-fat, high-sodium, preservative-packed food item. He told USA Today: “The last thing we need is to redesign candy and junk food with cool shapes, so we can give them to kids even younger.”

So, no star-shaped mini hot dogs anytime soon? Damn.

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Image: Wikimedia

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Food, Nutrition, & More Food
  • Femme Fatale

    Wow, just wow. The Common Sense Fairy would like to place the blame on the parents who don’t cut up the larger-than-windpipe-sized hot dogs for their very small children. Seriously, we need to reconsider which people should be in charge of the health and safety of their own children.

  • Novathecat

    Redesign hotdogs? We already have bologna. That should be good enough for paranoid and clueless parents.

  • Brian Too

    One wonders whether this has any value in the real world.

    Why does a child get a hot dog section lodged in their throat? Because they didn’t chew.

    Redesign the hot dog into ANY shape conceivable. What happens? Children will get the mystery meat lodged in their throats, because they didn’t chew.

    The only way to avoid this, that I can see, is to feed kids micro-mini hot dogs, like those cocktail weenies. The kids will still wolf down the mystery meat. However I think you’ll find that micro-mini hot dogs lose a lot of their appeal to children because you don’t have the fun shape and the all-in-one, dog in a bun packaging anymore.

    Perhaps you could make an unconsolidated meat paste in a tube and market it as space dogs for astronauts??

  • April

    I don’t believe this. They’ve already invented it; it’s called CHEWING, you stupid f***s.

    [Moderator’s note: Edited the cuss word.]

  • Anon

    Put it in a blender. Problem solved.

  • carol

    I quarter them the long way and then chop them up.

    Knew a guy from college who was eating them when he was by himself and he died by choking to death, so not just for kids are they are a problem.

    Also as far as regular hotdogs, I don’t buy them. There are healthy choices. For example, Trader Joes makes turkey dogs which are low fat, and have no nitrates, soy, junk, etc. I buy these and they taste great. Then I use whole wheat bread or eat them without bread.

  • Another Adam

    Sometimes we need to look at the risk vs rewards. I don’t see anything actionable in the AAP statement. Take just the hot dog for instance. According to the statement, “Approximately 66 to 77 children younger than 10 years of age die from choking on food each year in the United States.” If hot dogs account for 17 percent of these deaths that is 13 children a year. While these deaths are tragic for the families, the numbers are not high enough to warrant a complete overhaul of food processing plants. Compare that to the 1,000 children in the same age group that die each year in car accidents even though they are properly restrained. There are literally bigger problems than the shape of hot dogs.

  • Columbus Jobs

    The hot dog is the most American food I can think of! Why change that?


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