Background Children’s deaths due to choking on cherry tomatoes have been reported throughout the world. Although cherry tomatoes should be cut into small pieces, no tool for cutting them or other smooth, spongy foods is on the market in Japan.
Objective The goal of the present study is to develop an attractive kitchen utensil to reduce choking risk due to cherry tomatoes in children.
Methods We collaborated with the Tokyo Fire Department and the Japan Industrial Designers’ Association, which is the largest national organization for industrial designers in Japan, and created four mockups for cherry tomato slicers: 1) castanets, 2) tongs, 3) small scissors, and 4) large scissors. We put a great deal of thought into designing the blade and changed the design several times until a cherry tomato could be cut smoothly. We then conducted a workshop in Omura, Nagasaki, Japan to educate the public on the risk of choking and to collect community input on our new product. Participants tried all four designs and answered a questionnaire.
Findings Thirty-one community members completed a questionnaire. When asked if one knew that children could die from choking on a cherry tomato, 52% of the respondents said ‘no’, and only 32% said that they actually cut cherry tomatoes when giving them to children. Regarding the ease of cutting (six-point Likert scale, with 6 being the easiest), the average scores for designs 1) through 4) were 4.53, 3.87, 4.16, and 5.13 respectively. Finally, when asked to rank the items in order of preference, ranks 1 through 4, in order, were assigned to the large scissors, the castanets, the small scissors, and the tongs, respectively.
Conclusion We have obtained a partner to commercialize the developed slicer.
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