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Food Safety Focus (141st Issue, April 2018) – Food Incident Highlight

Minimising Food-related Choking in Young Children

Young children can choke on food easily especially when the foods are difficult to bite or chew and may then get stuck in their throats. This is because children have small air and food passages, and their food-biting or chewing skills are still under development. 

Besides konjac jellies (soft, slippery jellies which do not dissolve easily), other foods more likely to cause choking include: i) small hard foods (e.g., nuts, raw carrot and sunflower seeds); ii) small round/oval foods (e.g., grapes, peas); iii) foods with skins/leaves (e.g., sausages, lettuce, nectarines); iv) compressible foods (e.g., hot dogs, marshmallows, chewing gum); v) thick pastes (e.g., chocolate spreads, peanut butter); and vi) fibrous/stringy foods (e.g., celery, raw pineapple). 

To minimise the risks of food-related choking in young children, caregivers are advised to modify the texture of high risk foods by various techniques, e.g. cooking, fine-chopping, mashing, peeling off the skin, or removing the strong fibres. Avoid giving foods that the texture is difficult to be modified (e.g. small hard foods) to young children.