CHOKING DEATHS OF TODDLERS IN PRE-SCHOOLS JOLT JAPAN
Although the Japanese government has announced a list of foods that pose choking risks, yet another child has recently choked to death, this time on a grape -- one of several foods the government says can likely lead to suffocation, the Mainichi Shimbun reported.
The newspaper took a look into cases of children choking on food and why they keep on occurring. According to Takao Police Station of the Metropolitan Police Department and a private kindergarten in the suburban Tokyo city of Hachioji, a 4-year-old boy on Sept. 7 ate a large Pione grape served for lunch, and suddenly stood up in agony. Teachers and others unsuccessfully tried to make the boy spit out the grape by hitting his back. The toddler's death was confirmed after he was sent to the hospital unconscious.
The boy had choked on a peeled grape measuring 3 centimeters in diameter. The kindergarten apparently served cut grapes to children aged 1 and 2, but provided a whole grape to those aged 3 and older. Similar accidents have been occurring in Japan, including a case where a 4-year-old boy died in February after choking on a bean during a "Setsubun" bean-throwing festival at a certified child center in the city of Matsue, Shimane Prefecture, western Japan.
Both grapes and beans are specified on a list of choking hazard foods compiled by the central government. A guideline on preventing and responding to accidents that take place at schools and other child care facilities, formulated by the Cabinet Office and other authorities in 2016, lists items such as grapes, cherry tomatoes and cherries as foods that are likely to cause suffocation, based on past incidents. The government is also asking that such food items not be served for school lunches.