Mini Eggs choking warning issued to parents of young children by charity

A charity has issued a choking warning about Mini Eggs. (Getty Images)
A charity has issued a choking warning about Mini Eggs. (Getty Images)

Easter is almost upon us and the supermarket aisles are filled with tempting sweet treats, but one charity is warning about the hidden dangers of one chocolate favourite.

The Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) says Cadbury’s Mini Eggs could pose a choking hazard and risk to small children.

The charity has advised the pastel-hued eggs are the "perfect size" to get stuck in a small child’s throat and block their airways.

And unlike similar-sized food items, like grapes, the chocolate treats aren’t as easy to slice into smaller pieces.

In a post featuring an image of a grape alongside a Mini Egg with the caption "What do grapes and mini eggs have in common?" the charity highlighted the dangers for parents.

"It’s that time of year again when mini eggs are lining the supermarket shelves. But, did you know that, just like grapes, they are the perfect size to block a small child’s airway and choke them?" the post, shared to social media, explains.

"And, their hard shell can make it difficult to dislodge with standard first aid techniques."

The Trust recommends slicing whole grapes into halves or quarters lengthways, creating thin strips, but as Mini Eggs have hard, sugar shells, this is much more difficult.

The charity went on to offer some further advice for parents including putting the Mini Eggs into a sealable plastic bag and smash them into small pieces with a rolling pin.

"Or, crush them in a pestle and mortar," it adds.

The CAPT has issued some choking prevention advice for parents ahead of Easter. (Getty Images)
The CAPT has issued some choking prevention advice for parents ahead of Easter. (Getty Images)

Alternatively it recommends small children are given an alternative treat, such as larger hollow eggs, which the charity says are much safer for little ones.

"Visit our choking hub to learn more about common choking hazards and what you should do in an emergency:," the charity ends its post.

A spokesperson from Mondelēz International, Cadbury owner, told Yahoo UK that there is a warning label on the packaging explaining about the choking risks to small children.

"The safety of consumers is of the upmost importance to us," the statement explains. "All of our Cadbury Mini Eggs packaging carries a very clear choking hazard warning and states that these products are not suitable for children under the age of four."

Advice to help prevent choking

According to the CAPT young children have narrow airways and are still learning to chew, breathe and swallow in the right order.

"Knowing some simple steps puts you in the driving seat and lessens the worry," the charity advises.

While it’s possible for a child to choke on anything, the charity says some foods pose more of a risk than others and should be avoided.

These include:

  • Popcorn – which can easily get stuck

  • Marshmallows – they get sticky when wet so can seal the airway

  • Round hard sweets – they’re slippery so can easily be swallowed and block the airway

  • Jelly cubes – also get sticky when wet

  • Peanut butter on its own – globs can seal the airway, so only use it as a spread

  • Whole grapes – they can be difficult to dislodge from the airway because they’re flexible

  • Lollipops – these essentially become a hard boiled sweet if it comes off the stick

The trust recommends cutting up any foods which are "hard, chunky, round, doughy or stodgy" into strips. Removing the skin also makes food easier to swallow.

It has some further advice for specific foods to avoid choking.

  • Meat – cut into strips and remove any bones, skin or fat.

  • Fruit – check for pips or stones and remove them.

  • Round fruit like grapes, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and cherry tomatoes – cut lengthways and then into quarters.

  • Vegetables and larger fruit like melon, apple, mango, carrot and cucumber – cut into thin strips. You can grate or mash soft food or steam or simmer harder food to soften it, especially for weaning or very young children.

  • Removing skin from fruits or vegetables makes them easier to swallow and reduces the risk of your child choking on the skin.

  • Legumes like chickpeas and butter beans – mash or steam to soften them.

  • Whole nuts should not be given to children under five. Chop or flake nuts and seeds.

  • Cheese – cut into narrow batons or strips.

  • White bread can form a doughy ball in the throat, so brown or toasted bread is a good option. Cut all types of bread into narrow strips.

It also advises parents stay with children when they’re eating and try to encourage them to sit still as this is much safer.

The charity recommend children have larger, hollow eggs. (Getty Images)
The charity recommend children have larger, hollow eggs. (Getty Images)

Tips on helping a choking child

The NHS has provided the following advice:

  • If you can see the object, try to remove it, but don't poke blindly or repeatedly with your fingers as this could push the object further in.

  • If your child's coughing loudly, encourage them to carry on coughing.

  • If your child's coughing isn't effective (it's silent or they can't breathe in properly), shout for help immediately and decide whether they're still conscious.

  • If your child's still conscious, but they're either not coughing or their coughing isn't effective, use back blows.

Back blows for babies under 1 year

  • Sit down and lay your baby face down along your thigh or forearm, supporting their back and head with your hand.

  • Give up to five sharp back blows with the heel of one hand in the middle of the back between the shoulder blades.

Back blows for children over 1 year

  • Lay a small child face down on your lap as you would a baby.

  • If this isn't possible, support your child in a forward-leaning position and give five back blows from behind.

If back blows don't relieve the choking and your baby or child is still conscious, give chest thrusts to infants under 1 year or abdominal thrusts to children over 1 year.

Chest thrusts for children under 1 year

  • Lay your baby face up along the length of your thighs.

  • Find the breastbone and place two fingers in the middle.

  • Give five sharp chest thrusts (pushes), compressing the chest by about a third.

Abdominal thrusts for children over 1 year

  • Stand or kneel behind your child. Place your arms under the child's arms and around their upper abdomen.

  • Clench your fist and place it between the navel and ribs.

  • Grasp this hand with your other hand and pull sharply inwards and upwards.

  • Repeat up to five times.

  • Make sure you don't apply pressure to the lower ribcage, as this may cause damage.

Following chest or abdominal thrusts, reassess your child as follows

  • If the object still isn't dislodged and your child's still conscious, continue the sequence of back blows and either chest or abdominal thrusts.

  • Call out or send for help, if you're still on your own.

  • Don't leave the child.

Call 999 if the blockage doesn't come out after trying back blows and either chest or abdominal thrusts. Keep trying this cycle until help arrives.

Even if the object has come out, get medical help. Part of the object might have been left behind, or your child might have been hurt by the procedure.

Unconscious child with choking

  • If a choking child is, or becomes, unconscious, put them on a firm, flat surface and shout for help.

  • Call 999, putting the phone on speakerphone so your hands are free.

  • Don't leave the child at any stage.

  • Open the child's mouth. If the object's clearly visible and you can grasp it easily, remove it.

  • Start CPR – see How to resuscitate a child.

Children's health: Read more

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