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AMI Statement on Hot Dogs and Choking

Monday, February 22, 2010

Attribute to Janet M. Riley, president, National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, senior vice president, public affairs, American Meat Institute

“The safety of the foods we serve to our customers, especially children, is of paramount importance to the meat industry.  That is why for more than a decade, we have echoed the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations that hot dogs should be cut into small pieces before serving to young children; that casings, if present, should be removed; and that parents should carefully supervise their young children’s eating at all times. 

Several companies who manufacture hot dogs – representing roughly half the market share –have chosen to include choking prevention advice on packages and have done so for years. It is important to evaluate the impact the presence of those warning labels has had on choking incidents associated with hot dogs and whether or not those labels have been effective in preventing choking incidents. Despite the fact that this has not yet been evaluated, our members are carefully considering AAP's new policy on this issue. 

In terms of a call for a redesign of hot dogs, these are an iconic food known for their distinctive shape.  However, I can say that as a mother, I redesign many foods – from hot dogs to grapes to carrot sticks – in my own kitchen when I serve them to toddlers. I simply use a knife and cut them into small, bite-sized pieces. 

We support the Academy's efforts to advise patients on how to prepare food for young children to prevent choking.  In joining that effort, we are committed to creating a Web video and companion brochure this year that will advise parents of the importance of cutting hot dogs in very small pieces when serving to young children.”

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