Choking hazard from paper straws - EU country warnings

Choking hazard from paper straws

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Paper straws, in addition to the reactions of consumers who appear disappointed and dissatisfied with their use, as they have changed the sensory experience, are potentially also a choking hazard, as warned by the Food Safety Authorities of two European countries: The Netherlands and Finland which they have received thousands of complaints about the danger of small children. In parallel with the implementation of the ban on plastics, many organizations of people with special needs have expressed their strong opposition as paper straws are difficult to use. As they say for many people with disabilities, not having plastic straws is not a matter of how much they care about dolphins or sea turtles, but it can be a matter of life or death as plastic straws are essential tools for their hydration and feeding.

According to campaigners, paper straws decompose after being soaked in liquids for a period of time, making them a choking hazard. Also, the other alternatives to plastic, metal and glass straws do not protect against heat, and metal can also cause allergic reactions in people with chemical sensitivities.

The Dutch Food Standards Authority NVWA has warned about the choking hazard. The Authority expressed concerns about the safety of these products as it received many reports from consumers and raised the issue with the European Commission.

The NVWA asked consumers to report any problems they have experienced with paper straws. About 1.300 people responded and about 400 said part of the paper straw had ended up in the throat of their child or someone with special needs. Although in most cases the person involved was able to cough up and expel the product, in up to 15% of cases assistance was required to remove it! Some consumers complained about the poor quality of the paper straws, and almost all of the responses were about straws stuck to beverage cans.

As of 3 July 2021, the EU ban on plastic consumables such as straws has come into effect, prompting manufacturers to import paper straws. The NVWA said that as a result of its research, it is encouraging food producers to consider alternatives or improve the quality of the paper straw.

Also the Finnish Food Safety Authority Ruokavirasto has received several reports of choking hazards caused by paper straws. Infants have swallowed liquid foods together with the paper straws included in the package, which have disintegrated in the infant's mouth as a result of chewing and sucking, creating a choking hazard. If paper is swallowed, a chemical hazard is also possible.

Paper straws are even more dangerous when they are included, for example, in the packaging of various foods, juices and berry smoothies. The Food Authority warns parents of young children about the issue and urges that food eaten with paper straws should only be provided under supervision to avoid choking incidents.

The Finnish Food Authority Ruokavirasto asked food control authorities to take these risks into account in their control measures.

Source: First Topic