That's more than a thousand new cases since May. Poison control experts are worried that the word is not spreading fast enough to parents of young children who can mistake liquid detergent packets for candy.
by Carol Fowler, Viewpoints Writer
The American Associaton of Poison Control Centers represents 57 local poison control centers across the United States. Spokesperson Loreeta Canton tells Viewpoints that the local centers are getting an alarming surge in calls reporting incidents of children under age 5 getting sick from eating or swallowing the brightly colored packets of detergent, most notably Tide Pods.
The AAPCC knows of 1,464 cases of exposure to detergent packets like Tide Pods, however Canton says the number could be much higher because while doctors may report the cases voluntarily, they are not required to report information about the children they treat. The number is based on the calls placed to local poison control centers for information from parents and emergency rooms. The ASPCC reports that 17 of those children have been placed on ventilators. Common symptoms include drowsiness, vomiting, wheezing and gasping.
At the release of Tide Pods back in February, 2012, the product was touted by maker Proctor & Gamble as “the biggest innovation in laundry in about a quarter of a century.” It’s a detergent, stain fighter and brightener all in one. It reportedly took eight years and 6,000 consumer tests to create a single packet that would melt in water.
Now Tide is taking steps to more aggressively address reports that children are getting sick, some seriously, when biting or swallowing the detergent packets. Proctor & Gamble posted this statement dated May 25, 2012, as a blogpost on its website:
Thanks for Helping Us Spread the Word, for the Safety of Our Little Ones
Our Response to Recent Reports of Incidents Involving Single Pack Detergents
At P&G, we’re committed to ensuring that our products and packaging are safe for you and your family.
You may have heard some recent reports of children ingesting laundry detergent packets that were left within their reach. We’re taking these reports very seriously.
While this issue affects all single dose laundry detergent packets on the market (not just those made by P&G), Tide Pods — as the market leader — is receiving much of the attention.
Like all P&G products and packaging, Tide Pods are safe when they’re used and stored according to the package directions. That’s why we’re working with the American Cleaning Institute to educate and promote the safe handling, use and disposal of all laundry detergents, and to remind everyone that cleaning products must be kept out of the reach of children at all times. We encourage other manufacturers to join us in these efforts. (Please read the instructions on our web site for the proper use and storage of laundry detergent.)
And as an added safeguard against similar accidents in the future, we’re introducing a double-latch closure lid on tubs of Tide Pods, which will be available on store shelves starting July 2012.
Most importantly, this serves as a reminder of the responsibility we share to keep all household cleaning products out of the reach of children. Laundry detergent packets are no exception.
Thanks for helping us spread the word, for the safety of our little ones.
A report this week on ABC News confirms that the problem is not limited to Tide Pods. Other brands, like OxiClean and Arm & Hammer, are also now marketing detergent packets.
Poison control experts were the first to raise a flag that the detergent packets are not only enticing to children, but they seem to make children more violently ill than other types of powder or liquid detegent.
“The rapid onset of significant symptoms is pretty scary,” said Dr. Michael Beuhler, medical director of the Carolinas Poison Center. “Other laundry detergents cause only mild stomach upset or even no symptoms at all. Although we aren’t certain what in the product is making the children sick, we urge all parents and caregivers to make sure laundry detergent packs are not accessible to young kids.”
Viewpoints reported on May 30 that Tide was rushing canisters to market with a child-proof 'double latch.' The question remains how the packets sold in resealable pouches will be marketed in the future.