Top 10 things that get lodged in the throat, Australia version

Warning: avoid chunks of plastic when eating food from take-away containers.

Maybe that’s an additional warning required for those Styrofoam containers or clamshells, popular for leftovers and take-away food.

We developed safe handling labels for take-out food and showed those stickers can help restaurants and food providers distinguish themselves in a competitive marketplace. But now researchers report in the Medical Journal of Australia two separate cases where women accidentally swallowed a large chunk of plastic, which became stuck in their throat and required a trip to hospital to have it removed, after eating food straight out of a take-away container, which had "softened" as a result of their meal being heated up in a microwave oven.

Dr Chris Pokorny from Sydney’s Liverpool Hospital, and colleagues, write,


"Given that take-away food containers are widely used, these cases highlight the need for care to be taken when heating food in such containers and then consuming directly from them."

The doctors warn the plastic softens during the heating process, and could be sliced through during the act of cutting up a bite-sized portion of food.

The paper also lists those items which most commonly get lodged in the throat, headed by a wad of improperly chewed food (17.1 per cent) then coins (15.6 per cent), fish bones (12.6 per cent), dental prostheses (8.6 per cent) and chicken bones (6 per cent).

Honey helps sore throats

"Many families are going to relate to these findings and say that grandma was right."

So says lead author Dr. Ian Paul of Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine after a study found that honey did better than cough medicine or no treatment in a three-way comparison of 105 children.

The story explains that federal health advisers have recently warned that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines shouldn’t be used in children younger than 6, and manufacturers are taking some products for babies off the market.

Three pediatricians who read the study said they would tell parents seeking alternative remedies to try honey. They noted that honey should not be given to children under age 1 because of a rare but serious risk of botulism.

The research appears in December’s Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.