2 People Die in Japan by Choking on Traditional New Year's Sweet

The chewy dessert is responsible for deaths and injuries each year

There were two reported mochi-related deaths in Tokyo on New Year’s Day. Mochi are chewy, sticky, stretchy glutinous rice balls that, if not chewed properly, can be easy to choke on. A man in his 50s from Ota Ward and a man in his 80s from Edogawa Ward separately choked to death on the traditional Japanese treat, which is often enjoyed at the new year. The treats were also responsible for the hospitalization of 13 other people, according to Japan Today

The mochi cakes, which house a filling like ice cream, are a little too big to be bite-sized and are easy to choke on. Knowing this, every year a few days prior to the New Year, the Tokyo Fire Department warns the public to cut their mochi into bite sized pieces and reminds the general public to chew slowly when enjoying the sweets, especially for those who are over 50 years old. There is even a website advising what should be done if choking on a mochi occurs.

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