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Whole grapes are a choking hazard - right?!

(198 Posts)
Cutthegrapes Sat 05-Nov-16 11:13:16

So, why do I find myself unwittingly engaged in a battle with one of the UK's largest pub and restaurant chains to get them to cut the grapes in a children's fruit salad? AIBU to think that it wouldn't be easier cut the grapes than perform the Heimlich on a preschooler in a restaurant?

If you're already thinking, 'Wait, this guy has literally just joined mumsnet to have a moan', then you're not far off. I've joined Mumsnet because I'm a concerned father and I'm not being taken seriously by Whitbread. I was just a concerned father when I raised this issue with Whitbread, following a meal in a Table Table restaurant. When they fobbed me off until their 'next menu review', but thanked me for raising a 'presentation' issue, I became an angry and concerned father. After my email to the CEO and Senior Management of Premier Inns and Restaurants went unanswered, I became a determined father. It's genuinely a life and death issue and it cannot be ignored because it's too much hassle to take a few extra seconds when preparing food for children.

RoSPA and the Child Accident Prevention Trust and may other charities have run campaigns encouraging parents to cut grapes before feeding them to children. Children have nearly died and children have actually died as a result of getting grapes lodged in their windpipes - just do a quick Google and it's not hard to see what can happen if you don't cut the grapes!

I know it sounds trivial, I know I probably sound histrionic, but frankly, it's a bigger issue than that and I cannot think of a reason why any food outlet could defend a decision to not cut the grapes in dishes specifically designed for children. Accidents do not wait for 'menu reviews'. AIBU to think that a responsible organisation might have jumped on the opportunity to do the right thing, simply ask their pubs and restaurants to cut the grapes and take advantage of the good publicity? I'm sure they're careful with nuts in their meals, so why be so irresponsible with grapes?

If you'd like to read my original post and copy of the letter to Whitbread's CEO, you can find them in the visitor posts on the 'Table Table Pub Restaurants' Facebook page.

AIBU? I'd like to hear your thoughts.


SmallBee Sat 05-Nov-16 11:15:11

Can you not just cut your child's grapes once they get to the table?

It's great you're raising awareness though, good job.

Imavinoops Sat 05-Nov-16 11:17:52

Whole grapes are a danger to young children and DO need to be cut in half.
However, you would cut up a child's main food in a pub or restaurant before they ate it right?
Are grapes really a different issue?
It's the parent or current caregivers responsibility to double check and adapt the food for their particular child's needs.

Cutthegrapes Sat 05-Nov-16 11:19:17

Yes, you're absolutely right - and I did once I spotted that they were in the fruit salad! I've got two small children (3 and 1) and I take them out each Saturday so that my wife can work. They're good as gold, but if you're actively feeding the little one and you don't know that someone's put a choking hazard in front of the bigger one until he's got in his mouth, it's a bit late.

So I agree, there's always a parental responsibility to check, but they could make our lives easier by not serving a problem up to a 3 year old. After all, they wouldn't put down food with nuts in and hope you spotted them before the child had a an anaphylactic repsonse.

Artandco Sat 05-Nov-16 11:20:28

But they aren't giving them to your child mouth. They are serving a desert at the table. You as a parent then need to cut them up yourself if you child is small. A 2 year old you would chop them, a 9 year old would be fine

PetalMettle Sat 05-Nov-16 11:20:29

I guess they're whole as it would be more work to cut them. But when food comes it's normally too hot for kids, and also may need cutting more generally, so it may be a case of adults taking responsibility.

Artandco Sat 05-Nov-16 11:21:12

Children can eat nuts also btw

insancerre Sat 05-Nov-16 11:23:21

They could avoid the issue by not serving grapes
I'm a nursery manager and we tell parents that grapes have to be sliced into quarters in packed lunches
People seem to underestimate how dangerous grapes are

MaryField Sat 05-Nov-16 11:23:26

I really think this is a parent's responsibility. A restaurant doesn't cut up the rest of the meal. How does it know how old your child is? I mean, do they cut them in half? Quarters? They would leave themselves open to all sorts. No, a child who needs their food cut up is not on their own in a restaurant so the capability of the child to eat the meal safely is the adult's responsibility.

FeelingSmurfy Sat 05-Nov-16 11:23:49

Something that may help your cause, a child died after choking on a grape from a pizza Hut salad bar, they took the decision to completely remove grapes from every stores salad bar indefinitely

ImprovingMyMH Sat 05-Nov-16 11:24:10

I completely agree - it's a kids menu, therefore the grapes should be cut in half. And it's definitely not a presentation issue, it's a health and safety issue.

DS is 6. I still cut his grapes in half, and I have no plan to stop this any time soon. It's basic risk calculation: risk of something going wrong (relatively low) x the magnitude of that thing going going wrong (potentially catastrophic) = just cut the grapes in half! It only takes a minute.

CatchIt Sat 05-Nov-16 11:26:35

YANBU, I also wish they'd cut them in the fruit salads in supermarkets too.

Thisjustinno Sat 05-Nov-16 11:26:36

They don't cut up the rest of a child's meal in the kitchen do they? No, you cut it up at the table. Why would it be different for grapes?. I think you need to let this go.

Sparlklesilverglitter Sat 05-Nov-16 11:27:32

Yes grapes for a young child should be cut in half.

On a child's meal from a child's menu I would assume the grapes would be cut in half before it got to the table

GiddyOnZackHunt Sat 05-Nov-16 11:28:08

The shock face I got from staff at a soft play birthday party when I asked for a knife to cut grapes that were plonked on the table for 4 year olds was interesting. They plainly thought I was mad.
I've run a community playgroup where we volunteers had to cut every single grape in half so why businesses can't is beyond me.
The awareness isn't there or if it is, the will isn't.

insancerre Sat 05-Nov-16 11:28:40

How do you cut up grapes in a bowl?
It's easier to cut up food on a plate with a knife and fork but in a bowl with a spoon would be more difficult

Imavinoops Sat 05-Nov-16 11:33:11

Improving I think your post could highlight a question of people's perceptions in parenting also. You chop up your grapes for your 6yo whereas someone else may not. Both could be correct things to do as there is not a universal cut off age for chopping up children's grapes. Either the restaurant would need to not chop or chop up for all as they wouldn't know the ages of the children they are serving them to.

In one way we may thing "Great, let's have them all chopped up and keep all children safe" but then you may have older children and their parents complaining that they want their children to be eating whole grapes.

I don't think they can please everyone with this so in my mind it comes down to a parental responsibility issue.

(Why am I getting all excited about opinions on grapes?! grin)

NoelHeadbands Sat 05-Nov-16 11:34:11

I agree with you.

They should cut them up or leave them out. It's not the same as cutting up parts of a child's meal imo, you do that because a child is not able to do that for her/himself, and also to make the food smaller for their little mouths.

Cutting grapes is done purely because they are a serious choke hazard.

SnowBodyforrrrm Sat 05-Nov-16 11:34:19

Grapes are indeed a choking hazard. But also grapes cut in half are too, due to the shape, they're the perfect size for blocking a small wind pipe. Which is where they differ from other foods (which isn't to say kids don't choke on other foods, but the shape of the grape is key.) My daughter suffered some brain damage at birth and had physiotherapy from 6 months. Her physio said most of the children she's worked with over the years with brain damage caused after birth, were caused by grapes and she said the only safe option is to not give them to kids at all. My kids love grapes, so I've got round this by cutting them into tiny pieces, very time consuming with four kids but at least I know they're safe.

I think the petition is a good idea but I'd be calling for them to remove grapes from their fruit bags altogether.

WorraLiberty Sat 05-Nov-16 11:35:33

I completely agree OP.

No, you shouldn't have to ask for a sharp knife and sit there cutting the grapes up yourself.

I too am surprised they don't want to get onboard with this.

plimsolls Sat 05-Nov-16 11:35:41

I agree with you OP.

I think although obviously other children's meals do not come from the kitchen already cut up, a fruit salad kind of does --- all the other pieces of fruit are probably bite size or a size that a child can feed themselves with their fingers, I don't think a parent would necessarily expect to have to cut iup a fruit salad. Therefore, a child may dig in independently unlike say, a plate of sausage and chips.

Or they could just replace the grapes with a different fruit.

slightlyglitterbrained Sat 05-Nov-16 11:37:18

While it's fair to say parents can cut up grapes, I think that a restaurant that markets themselves to families has some responsibility to educate their servers on how to put food on tables. For example: don't dump a cup of boiling hot coffee within easy reach of a baby. Don't serve babycinos at boiling temperatures. Don't be a dick, basically. I would count putting whole grapes in reach of two very small children when anyone with a brain can see that the parent with them is outnumbered as being a dick, personally. It would be perfectly easy to put them out of reach, to give the parent enough time to sort them out.

Fortunately I live in a city so can easily choose to eat elsewhere (I only have one child too, so it's easy for me to keep an eye on him.)

I agree that it's reasonable to expect an item labelled as for children to make some effort to avoid known choking hazards.

RockyBird Sat 05-Nov-16 11:39:41

The first time I gave my child a non cut up grape a child local to me died in a choking incident with a grape.

I now permanently cut up grapes for all the family. Adults and older children can choke on them too.

user1471521456 Sat 05-Nov-16 11:46:43

You take your kids for a pub lunch and make them have fruit salad? YABU, let them have ice cream.

Cel982 Sat 05-Nov-16 11:47:39

You're not wrong, OP. A company whose business is good service needs to be aware of food safety issues, especially as not every parent will be clued in themselves.

And obviously avoiding choking hazards takes precedence over an older child's preference for whole grapes.

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