Call to Action: Redesign the Hot Dog

March 29th, 2010 by Kathy McManus

A group of pediatricians say the hot dog needs a makeover.

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The Responsibility Project

Looks like one of America’s most iconic foods is in the doghouse.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently issued a statement saying that hot dogs — which account for 17% of all food-related deaths among children — should be “redesigned.” As USA Today put it, “so their size, shape, and texture make them less likely to lodge in a youngster’s throat.”

According to pediatrician Gary Smith, author of the AAP statement, once a piece of hot dog blocks a child’s airway, “It’s only a matter of minutes before permanent brain damage and death occur.” Parents can’t “watch all of their kids 100% of the time,” Dr. Smith concluded, so it’s best to “design these risks out” of hot dogs. What a reworked hot dog might look like has not been discussed.

Janet Riley, president of the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council, countered, saying that parents are capable of cutting up their children’s food. Riley said she redesigned her own hot dogs “in my kitchen by cutting them with a paring knife until my children were old enough to manage on their own.”

Tell us what you think: Should hot dog manufacturers redesign the hot dog? Or should such ‘makeovers’ be done at home?