Does anyone else start every day by cataloging all of the things that you’re afraid of? I do. Today, it was the inexorable march of time and the inexorable creasing of my neck skin, the possibility that our personal freedoms will be further restricted, and horses. But thanks to some data from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, I’m tempted to add pizza to that list.
Earlier this week, the agency tweeted a photo titled “Pizza: Tales of Betrayal,” and casually mentioned that Americans made an estimated 2,300 pizza-related visits to the emergency room last year. (Here’s where I suggest following the gloriously weird @USCPSC Twitter account.) Those injuries ranged from cuts and burns to falling while making pizza and falling while collecting a pizza from a restaurant. And, bless his heart, one 58-year-old man sought medical treatment after falling out of bed while reaching for a pizza.
Every year, the CPSC collects information about injuries caused by a wide range of consumer products, and compiles all of that data in its National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). This info serves as a national estimate of “the number and types of consumer product-related injuries,” and is gathered from the records of 96 hospitals in the United States and in US territories.
“Pizza is a good example [of NEISS info],” Joe Galbo, the CPSC’s social media specialist, told MUNCHIES. “The FDA obviously regulates food, but we can find injuries associated with pizza by looking for it in the injury descriptions we receive from hospitals. Based on these reports our NEISS team uses an equation to create a national estimate of injuries.”
The CPSC received reports of 63 pizza-related injuries last year, but based on its Epidemiology department’s calculations, it estimates that there were 2,300 ‘za accidents across the United States. But is that better or worse than previous years? “I wish we could make a call on how Americans are doing as far as eating pizza, but since the number of injuries is so low from year to year it wouldn’t be scientifically appropriate to say that the change in injuries is statistically significant,” Galbo said.
Although those pizza stats might be surprising to anyone who doesn’t work inside the CPSC, they’re nothing compared to the amount of injuries caused by barbecue grills and stoves (24,082), cooking ranges and ovens (57,082), or holiday and party decorations (23,279). Even books have proven to be more dangerous than pizzas; another @USCPSC tweet said that there were an estimated 11,880 book-related ER visits last year.
“We spend a lot of time encouraging consumers to be mindful of safety when they’re creating their nursery, when they’re placing their portable generator around their home, when they’re making these small life decisions that seem inconsequential, but could have serious consequences,” Galbo said. “If there was one thing we would ask of people, it would be to take an extra second to think about your safety. To find ways and make small changes to keep their families safe.”
Got it—we’re probably safer making a pizza than either reading a book about it or decorating for a pizza party. Thank goodness.