Frankly Silly

February 23rd, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Bullet frankThis is surely a sign of my aging — well or badly, I’m too involved to differentiate. I find the wiener panic quite silly.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has its stethoscope tubes all knotted. While stopping short (just short) of calling for a ban on hot dogs, it does demand labels, statistics collection and product redesign.

From its policy statement:

…the Food and Drug Administration should have the authority to address choking-related risks of all food products, including meat products that fall under the jurisdiction of the US Department of Agriculture. The existing National Electronic Injury Surveillance System–All Injury Program of the CPSC should be modified to conduct more-detailed surveillance of choking on food among children. Food manufacturers should design new foods and redesign existing foods to avoid shapes, sizes, textures, and other characteristics that increase choking risk to children, to the extent possible. Pediatricians, dentists, and other infant and child health care providers should provide choking-prevention counseling to parents as an integral part of anticipatory guidance activities.

In what no doubt puts me in the alter kaker class, I hoot and holler, “Chew your food!”

It may be a bit much to expect all but the most exceptional children to eat mindfully. Look around at adults at your table or in restaurants to see those never taught and shown this crucial and gracious way.

I thought of that a few days ago in a movie theater while waiting for time to get a seat. Numerous people, men and women, from 20s into 70s, stood jamming palms full of popcorn at their mouths. They missed quite a few, leaving the rubble for others to clean. They also didn’t seem to enjoy or even be aware of what they were eating. They were delivering salt and fat to their tasted buds though. It was feral, as though woodland creatures had been dressed in windbreakers and parkas.

It can be the same with little kids and wieners.  A few will choke on food and a small subset of those will die. So, as Lenin famously wrote and frequently asked, “Что делать?” (What is to be done?)

Looking at what kills people, we have to put hot dogs, marshmallows and hard candies way, way down. The Center for Disease Control estimated that 66 to 77 kids died in 2001 from choking.  A dead child is always rending, but in perspective, it’s cars, pools and guns that kill kids, orders of magnitude above franks and more easily preventable.

Auto accidents have long been the leading cause, in the thousands. Yet, the well publicized dangers don’t keep their parents from speeding or make sure the kids are strapped into seats and seat belts.

So, the AAP would have us redesign the frankfurter and the marshmallow. Oh, yeah and somehow train parents to deal with choking.

Here, my alter kaker persona flares. Could parents consider:

  • Never giving a young kid food as big as either esophagus or trachea
  • Modeling and teaching chewing food

If your kids like marshmallows, give them the miniature ones, eh? As with most things children learn, tell them dozens or hundreds of times…until they clearly have gotten it.

I also have to wonder about the politics over at the AAP. Did some doctor member feel so moved about a patient’s unnecessary death that this translated into a crusade? Did some group figure this may be a minuscule problem, but one they would do something about? Did the staff just figure this would be a nice PR gambit, even if it had little need and will produce less effect?

I’ve raised three boys to man-size if not full maturity. I long ago became unsympathetic to parents who won’t bother to teach their versions to stay out of the street and cross it safely, never swim without a lifeguard and on and on. At the least, they need to teach them to chew their food.

…and while they’re at it, teach them to chew with their mouths closed!

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3 Responses

  1. Uncle says:

    Perhaps it’s a boost for bratwurst? One could also prepare a frankfurter as a patty, in which case it would no longer be a hot dog. Silly indeed.

  2. Ramona Gault says:

    I share your sentiments, and your apoplexy. I was left speechless one day at a park when I mildly protested to a young parent that her child should be stopped from throwing rocks at the salmon that were struggling upstream in the creek. “He’s just a little kid! He doesn’t know any better!” she responded. Eh? What are you, Mom, chopped liver?

  3. Harrumpher says:

    Wowsers, R.G., you handled it much better than I. We are left to wonder how and when she thinks kids get to know better. Maybe they’re to pick it up from Disney characters instead of parents..

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