Wednesday 25 May 2022

Food authority warns of paper straw choking hazard

Photo: Depositphotos

Paper straws are potentially a choking hazard, the Dutch food standards authority NVWA has warned.

The body raised safety concerns earlier this year and asked consumers to report any problems that they had experienced with paper straws.

Around 1,300 people responded, and around 400 said that part of the paper straw had ended up lodged in the throat of their child or someone with special needs.

Although in most cases the person involved was able to cough up the straw, in up to 15% of cases, they needed help to remove it or to be struck on the back. Some consumers complained about the poor quality of the paper straws, and almost all of the responses were about straws attached to packets of drink.

None of the situations involved an actual choking incident or medical emergency, the NVWA said, however it has issued a formal warning.

‘The NVWA advises parents and carers to be careful if young children and people with a disability use a paper straw,’ the body said in a news release. ‘When they are sucked upon for a long time, parts of the straw can become weak and disintegrate.’

Since 3 July 2021, an EU ban has been in force against plastic disposable items such as straws, leading manufacturers to introduce paper straws. The NVWA has said that as a result of its research, it is encouraging food producers to look at alternatives or improve paper straw quality. It is also raising the issue with the European Commission.

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