THREE YEARS ago reports that commercial baby foods were being criminally contaminated prompted manufacturers to develop devices to prevent tampering with tins and jars.

Unfortunately, the use of one type of plastic oversleeve with a transparent tear-down strip has caused serious respiratory problems for a 14-month-old boy. One day he appeared to choke on the contents of a jar and was taken to hospital, where food was removed. A month later, when he was admitted to hospital suffering from gastroenteritis, his mother reported that his breathing had been strained since the choking incident. Investigations found a tear-down strip, with one red tip, lodged at the top of one lung.

Doctors from Newcastle upon Tyne who treated the child have written to the Lancet suggesting that tear-down sections should be completely coloured and preferably not detachable from the jar.