NZ moves to ban dried fruit from ECEC centres to avoid choking hazards
Marshmallows and chips might not be common additions to the daily menu in early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings, in either Australia or New Zealand, but dried fruit is a common finding, and one that could be banned in New Zealand under possible Ministry of Education rules.
New Zealand’s Acting Deputy Secretary of Sector Enablement and Support Coralanne Child is quoted in local news source TVNZ as saying that the Ministry is making changes that will “make it mandatory for early learning services to follow Ministry of Health guidelines on preparing and serving food for young children to reduce the risk of choking”.
Foods on the list of risk, for children under five, include small hard foods (such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dried fruit, or raw apple), small round/oval foods (such as grapes, berries, watermelon and peas), food with skin or leaves (such as pears, lettuce, stone fruits or sausages), compressible foods (such as cooked meat, marshmallows, cooked popcorn), thick pastes (such as chocolate spread), or fibrous/stringy foods (such as celery, rhubarb or raw pineapple) .
“Those aged under five are at a higher risk of choking because they have small air and food passages and are still developing their biting, chewing and food-grinding skills,” Ms Child said.
She told TVNZ that while most ECEC services already follow the guidelines, some may need to make changes in order to meet the new minimum standards.
Consultation about the proposed changes is open till mid-November with any changes to come into effect in 2020.