Choking on food is the second highest cause of preventable death in long term care.

We have no basic quarrel with the existence of Smucker’s “Uncrustables,” pre-made circular crustless single-serving peanut butter sandwiches popular with kids and convenient for parents since they require no prep work and can be stored in the freezer. Like a lot of food for kids, they are a little bit gross and a little bit tasty.

But when indiscriminately given by care facilities to at risk populations like the elderly, the demented, or developmentally delayed younger persons, many of whom have swallowing issues, the tasty peanut butter sandwich snack can be death. People over 65 years of age have seven times higher risk for choking on food than children aged 1–4 years of age. As we get older, it may be harder to chew and our swallowing ability may be weak. After falls, choking on food is the second highest cause of preventable death in long term care.

Peanut butter generally is a snack to avoid giving the elderly without supervision because of its sticky nature and ability to cause choking. When peanut butter is wrapped in sticky semi-frozen bread and wolfed down by a facility resident who may have no staff member watching because of understaffing, the results can be fatal.

For the past five years we have almost always had at least one Uncrustable-related death case in litigation. We keep Uncrustables in the freezer at our firm, not as food, but to use as exhibits in death cases. We’re tired of watching facility surveillance videos of patients being handed the sandwich, staff walking away, and patients choking and dying. It is tough to see and easily avoidable.

If you have a loved one with likely swallowing issues in a care facility, be on the lookout for this popular snack. It is a lazy way to feed and has no business being given to persons with swallowing issues.