Food Safety Concern: Woman Chokes On Wire Lodged In Hot Dog

Under Investigation: Was the wire in the hot dog when she purchased it?  Or did a wire from a grill cleaning brush fall off and then become lodged in the hot dog during preparation?

In June of 2012 our client, a Seattle area woman, was eating a Hebrew National hot dog that had been purchased at Costco earlier that day.  Her boyfriend had prepared the hotdog on a gas grill.  Suddenly she started choking and coughing up blood. She was rushed to the emergency room where an Xray and CT scan found an object in her throat. A day later she had surgery to remove the object. It was a wire—about ¾ of an inch long. She later needed a second surgery to remove her tonsils due to damaged caused by the bristle/wire.

Hard or sharp foreign objects in food may cause traumatic injury including laceration and perforation of tissues of the mouth, tongue, throat, stomach and intestine as well as damage to the teeth and gums. From 1972 through 1997, the FDA Health Hazard Evaluation Board evaluated approximately 190 cases of hard or sharp foreign objects in food. These include cases of both injury and non-injury reported to FDA. The Board found that foreign objects that are less than 7 mm, maximum dimension, rarely cause trauma or serious injury except in special risk groups such as infants, surgery patients, and the elderly. The scientific and clinical literature supports this conclusion.

Attorney Greg Colburn of Davis Law Group represents the woman and is currently investigating whether the wire was inside the hot dog at the time it was purchased or whether the wire may have fallen off of a brush that was used to clean the grill.  All possibilities are being considered and to date nothing has been ruled out. 

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