Brian Bwoga demands urgent change after son died choking on a grape

A grieving father is making an urgent call for change after his son died choking on a grape.

Brian Bwoga was with his one-year-old son Zaire at Burns Beach in Western Australia on January 15 when one of the child’s friends offered him a grape to eat.

Mr Bwoga noticed something was wrong when his son came up to him and held his neck. He sprang into action and performed CPR.

The doting father recalled his son turning blue and having trouble breathing.

‘I tried CPR, but nothing came out. He held me so tight,” he said 7NEWS.

“He took one last look at me, smiled and died in my arms. He died in my arms.’

Police and paramedics tried to save his son, but he could not be revived.

“I have a background as a chef, so I’m always one of those parents who cuts everything up,” Mr Bwoga said.

“But he was playing with his friend, and his friend just shared the grape, and that was it.”

Zaire was just weeks after his second birthday when he choked on a grape offered to him by another toddler

There are currently no choking hazard labeling requirements in Australia, but this is something the Zaire's father (pictured) would like to see change

There are currently no choking hazard labeling requirements in Australia, but this is something the Zaire’s father (pictured) would like to see change

After the death of his son, Mr Bwoga became depressed. In search of answers, he was shocked to discover the high number of choking incidents in Australia.

He found that in 2021-2022 there were 134 deaths from suffocation and suffocation among children aged four and under.

In addition, two infant deaths occurred during the same period due to airway blocking foods.

There are currently no choking hazard labeling requirements in Australia, but this is something Zaire’s father would like to see change.

He launched an online petition calling on authorities to require warning labels on packaged grapes and signage in stores selling loose grapes.

“Warning labels or a sign when purchasing grapes is quite simple,” Mr Bwoga wrote in the petition.

“As for costs, a sign that shows customers when they select their grapes is a one-time expense that could last several years.

‘It is an invaluable service if it saves a life.

‘Ideally we would like supermarkets and major chains to consider putting choking hazard stickers on grapes, just like they do on toys and other things.’

Prevention of choking and choking risks

The parenting website Raising Children, operated by the federal government’s Department of Social Services, provides guidance on identifying choking hazards for children.

Choking happens when a child’s airway is blocked by something. Anything smaller than a 20 cent coin can cause airway blockage and pose a choking risk to children.

  • To reduce the risk of choking on food, supervise children and make sure they sit down while they eat.
  • Don’t give children whole nuts and seeds, chips, hot dogs, lollipops and marshmallows until they are 4 years old.
  • Other foods should be pureed, grated, chopped or peeled until children can chew thoroughly.
  • Keep small objects away from children to reduce the risk of choking in your home.

Here are examples of choking risks for babies and young children.

  • nuts and seeds, including popcorn kernels
  • hot dogs and sausages
  • pieces and bones of meat, including chicken or fish
  • hard foods such as crackers and corn chips
  • lollipops and marshmallows
  • unpeeled foods such as apples, nectarines, grapes and tomatoes
  • fruit seeds and stones
  • raw vegetables such as carrots, uncooked peas and lettuce leaves
  • fibrous foods such as celery and pineapple

Household choking hazards include:

  • coins
  • small or button batteries
  • small magnets
  • the top of pens and markers
  • jewellery

Choking hazards for toys and toy parts include:

  • plastic shapes
  • marbles
  • the eyes of stuffed animals
  • table tennis balls
  • uninflated or popped balloons

Other risks include small items such as tablets and chewable vitamins, chewing gum, stickers (such as those on fruit) and garden objects (such as pebbles).