The Government is warning of the dangers of button batteries after statistics revealed around 20 children each year are rushed to Auckland's Starship Hospital for treatment for swallowing a button battery, with some needing serious emergency surgery.
The alarming statistics show battery makers needed to improve their safety processes, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi says.
"They're particularly small and they can do a lot of harm in a short amount of time and they can have long lasting effects for the children," he said.
Mr Faafoi attended an event at Starship yesterday, alongside representatives from the hospital and Auckland District Health Board, warning of the dangers the batteries posed.
New Zealand will be one of the first countries in the world to enact a "product safety policy statement" in a bid to improve the warning labels on potentially harmful products including button batteries.
The batteries - which fit into small electronic devices, such as watches - can not only choke and block a child's airways, they can be corrosive to human tissue, as shown in a grim experiment conducted by the BBC.
Health correspondent Fergus Walsh used a slice of ham and a jug of water to show the damage small lithium batteries can do to human flesh.
Once water touches the battery, it causes the meat to bubble and burn.
"Eventually this would have burned its way right through the ham," Welsh says. "Same thing with a child's throat."
The corrosive process is called hydrolisation and is caused by the electric current from the battery reacting with body fluids to create a current which in turn "eats into tissue".
It can visibly begin damaging tissue within 30 minutes with health authorities warning that time is of the essence when treating a child suspected of swallowing a button battery.