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College Student Dies After Choking During Pancake Eating Contest

A word of caution to anyone interested in trying out competitive eating for themselves: it can be dangerous and deadly.

Such was the case for Sacred Heart University student Caitlin Nelson, who died on Sunday after choking during a pancake eating contest for her sorority.

NY Daily News reported that Nelson began choking at the contest after eating four to five pancakes Thursday, and was almost immediately treated to by nursing students as paramedics arrived. Unfortunately, they were unable to clear her airway. She was later taken to a hospital, where she died three days later.

The pancake eating contest was part of a charity event for Greek Week at the university.

Sadly, this wasn’t the only death to occur during an eating challenge in the past week. KDVR reported that a young man in Denver also died after attempting to conquer a donut-eating challenge at Voodoo Doughnut, and also choking.

Denver-based competitive eater Bryan Beard told KDVR that people often overlook the dangers of such competitive eating conquests until after the fact.

“People don’t think about the hazards of an eating contest until it’s too late… I’ve choked to the point where I had to reach down and pull it out of my throat. Every competitive eater has choked. It happens.”

At officially sanctioned eating competitions, medical personnel are on staff to immediately help in case somebody does choke. At a local eating contest or challenge like the pancake eating contest or donut challenge, however, that’s not the case, and while medical help did arrive, it was too late in both instances.

So if you’re considering participating in an eating challenge, learn from these tragedies. Make sure there is somebody nearby who is trained in CPR and first aid, have water around to wash the food down, and keep your cheeks clear of food at all times. It may very well save your life.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Mochi Causes 2 Deaths & Lands 15 in the Hospital. Is This Sweet Treat Really That Dangerous?

Who knew that mochi — the slightly sweet and chewy rice cake confection from Japan — could be so dangerous?

According to the Tokyo Fire Department, the popular New Year’s candy is responsible for the deaths of two men in 2013 — both choked on the gummy confection. 15 other men and women in the area were hospitalized because of mochi.

As Asian news site Rocket News 24 points out, many of those who have problems with the sticky treat are older — of the 2013 New Year’s choking non-fatalities, one victim was in their 90’s, eight in their 80’s, three in their 70’s, and three in their 60’s.

But is mochi really that risky to eat? Rocket News 24 suggests that if you’re ever celebrating the new year in Japan, you might want to skip the traditional (and very popular) sweet. “It’s not really that good,” reporter Master Blaster writes, “and if you’re the type who inhales their food, it could prove fatal. Have some kamaboko (fish cake/gummy) instead.”

And while it’s really sad that mochi is a huge choking hazard, we’re not so sure that you should shun mochi altogether. Really?! Have savory fish cake instead of pleasantly sweet and chewy mochi — on New Year’s Day in Japan?

As an avid mochi lover, I’m not convinced. Although mochi might seem like a scary food to eat, it really isn’t all that difficult to consume — once you get used to it. It’s just as easy to choke on mochi as it is to choke on any other candy or food. Should we skip all of our favorite confections for fear of choking? Give up tapioca milk tea? Stop chewing gum? No, it just seems that one should instead a) be careful and b) learn the Heimlich maneuver if they’re really that worried about this traditional Japanese treat.

What do you think?

H/T: Rocket News 24 + PicThx: Simply Mochi