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Be careful the next time you order a pie

Tim Nelson
September 10, 2018

Few things in life are superior to the simple pleasure afforded by truly excellent pizza. Whether it’s finding the perfect late-night dollar slice or a gourmet pie seemingly summoned from heaven, great pizza not only satisfies the appetite, it heals the soul.

But as it turns out, thousands of Americans every year have a much more tumultuous—dare I say traumatic—relationship with everyone’s favorite circle of bread, sauce, and cheese. Data compiled by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (by far the most surreal official governmental account on Twitter) suggests that a whopping 2,300 people wound up in the emergency room in 2017 as a result of injuries associated with pizza.

There were many ways to experience an incident that the CPSC counts as a “pizza betrayal”. In addition to relatively normal injuries like cuts (those pizza wheels can be unwieldy) and burns (who has the patience to let pizza cool down, anyway?), there were also a number of falls (both while making and picking up pizza). One 58 year-old man managed to hurt himself falling out of bed while lunging for a late night slice. If only there was a better way.

The pizza data comes from the CPSC’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which compiles information from “a nationally representative probability sample of hospitals in the U.S. and its territories” to make its annual estimates. The aim isn’t to study whether or not pizza is making people ill, but how its creation and consumption can lead to unintended consequences.

“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,” CPSC social media specialist Joe Galbo told Munchies. “Based on these reports our NEISS team uses an equation to create a national estimate of injuries.”

Though the stats certainly make pizza seem dangerous, it’s not even close to the the most injury-inducing meal out there. You’re far more likely to wind up in the hospital because of an oven or cooking range mishap (57,082 hospital visits), or because of a botched barbecue grill or stove incident (24,082). Even something as benign as books (11,800) were responsible for many more emergency room visits in 2017 than pizza.

In a perfect world, pizza would cause no pain and near-unlimited joy. Unfortunately, it’s pretty obvious that’s not the world we live in. At least there’s some cold comfort in knowing that if a pizza somehow sends you to the ER, you’re definitely not alone.  

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