The Unexpected Reason Bagels Are One Of The Most Dangerous Foods In The Country

On an average day, upwards of 7,000 Americans are hospitalized for injuries related to highway accidents. A passenger with a broken collarbone from a head-on collision might be treated alongside someone who's taken a nasty fall down the stairs, which causes roughly 800,000 hospitalizations each year. Meanwhile, sporting accidents give way to torn ligaments, sprained ankles, fractured bones, and concussions galore.

Another leading cause of emergency-room visits? Bagels. The doughy breakfast food is harmless when it's on your plate, but things can get ugly when a sharp knife is involved. According to data shared by The Wall Street Journal, 1,979 people were sent to the ER in 2008 with a BRI, also known as a bagel-related injury. While bagels cause fewer serious cuts than CRIs (chicken-related injuries), the number of annual bagel blunders is still pretty gruesome. Indeed, slicing a bagel is reportedly more risky than slicing an apple, a potato, or an onion.

Be careful with that knife

Slicing your hand instead of your bagel is not a brand-new phenomenon. In 1996, New Yorker contributor Calvin Trillin wrote that he was "surprised to read that bagels have become the most dangerous food in the country," having never fallen victim to such an injury himself, despite the significant number of bagels he had consumed as a longtime denizen of New York City. Around the same time, a Chicago ER director told The New York Times that "hand lacerations, cuts, gouges, and severed digits" were the most common sightings in patients with bad bagel luck.

"They feel they need to apologize for it," Dr. Joel Geiderman said in a 1995 Los Angeles Times interview, referring to the bagel victims that flooded his ER on Sunday mornings. "They may or may not smell of lox." Before you go renouncing bagels forever in the name of your health, consider changing your approach to preparation. 

Love eating bagels at home? Invest in a slicer

It might sound obvious, but the best way to avoid bagel injuries is to put down your knife. If you're someone who eats a lot of bagels at home, it might be worth it to invest in a contraption that does your bagel slicing for you. And when we say "invest," we don't mean you need to shell out a whole lot of cash. Standard slicers — sometimes labeled as guillotines, somewhat disturbingly — abound for $25 and under. Instead of wielding a knife, you can just push the sharp, wedge-shaped blade down onto the middle point of the bagel, splitting it in two.

If you insist on using a knife, always be sure to cut away from your body instead of toward it. To be on the safe side, place the bagel flat on a cutting board and slice it horizontally. Otherwise, it might slip from your hand and cause a bloody mess. Lastly, make sure it's not frozen before you start slicing. Stay safe out there!