By now, you’ve likely heard of the Tide Pod Challenge. This so-called “challenge” involves people filming themselves eating Tide laundry detergent pods, all in the hopes of impressing online viewers.
Obviously, laundry detergent pods are not something anyone should be adding to their diet. They can burn your internal organs, harm your vision, cause skin rashes and, in extreme cases, can even kill you.
Just weeks ago, a toxic chemical researcher said he would like to see laundry pods banned, but Tide—and its manufacturer, Procter & Gamble—says it has no plans to take them off the market, calling any rumors that they’d be discontinued “a complete hoax.”
It's a complete hoax. Tide Pods are used safely by millions of households across the country every day. We will continue to offer liquid laundry packets, together with other detergent forms.
— Tide (@tide) January 23, 2018
Since it seems the popular detergent pods are here to stay, some lawmakers are taking another angle at curbing their abuse—asking Tide to redesign them so they look less appetizing. According to the New York Daily News, lawmakers and consumer advocates in New York sent a letter to Procter & Gamble urging the company to redesign the packaging of Tide Pods to include clear warning labels, child-resistant wrappers and less appealing colors.
“Toxic substances like these laundry pods should not be packaged to look like candy or toys which lure children to put them in their mouths,” said Rep. Aravella Simotas.
It’s not just the disturbing Tide Pod Challenge that is driving the legislation, however. There are thousands of cases a year of children—and even the elderly—accidentally consuming the pods after apparently mistaking them for candy. In 2017 alone, U.S. poison control centers received reports of more than 10,500 children younger than 5 who were exposed to the capsules.
“Children and adults with cognitive impairments are at risk of death and serious injury from these items that are attractive to kids and can look like food,” said Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group.
Procter & Gamble already redesigned the product’s packaging in 2016 and launched an advertising campaign specifically targeted at the dangers the pods present to young children.
Those efforts, however, have not seemed to stop teens from purposefully eating them. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, in 2016 and 2017, it handled a combined 92 cases of intentional exposures among 13 to 19 year olds. In the first three weeks of 2018, poison control centers had already handled 86 intentional cases among the same age group.
While there’s no word yet on if the pods will, in fact, be redesigned, Procter & Gamble continues to stress the dangers of consuming the detergent, deflecting blame onto the people who are choosing to eat Tide Pods.
“Ensuring the safety of the people who use our products is fundamental to everything we do at P&G. However, even the most stringent standards and protocols, labels and warnings can’t prevent intentional abuse fueled by poor judgment and the desire for popularity,” Procter & Gamble CEO David Taylor said in a press release.
The company also sent a cheeky tweet on Super Bowl Sunday that urged people not to eat the pods.
Only things that should be on today’s menu: nachos, wings and plenty of team spirit. Save your Tide PODS® for the stains later.
— Tide (@tide) February 4, 2018
The company asks that everyone talk with the young people in their lives to let them know their life and health matter “more than clicks, views and likes.” If you or someone you know has eaten a laundry detergent pod, call the National Poison Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
Do you think Tide Pods should be redesigned? Or is the manufacturer not at all to blame for people eating them?