P&G to add latches to make detergent packs safer
By Linda Stewart Ball & Nomaan Merchant
POSTED: 09:34 a.m. HST, May 25, 2012
DALLAS >> The maker of Tide Pods will create a new double-latch lid to deter children from accessing and eating the brightly colored detergent packets, a company spokesman said Friday.
Procter & Gamble spokesman Paul Fox said the Cincinnati-based company plans to create a new lid on tubs of Tide Pods "in the next couple of weeks." The company continues to study the design of the package, Fox said.
Doctors say children sometimes swallow Tide Pods and similar laundry products, around 1-inch cubes that are meant to be dropped into a washing machine in place of liquid or powder detergent. Nearly 250 cases nationally have been reported to poison control centers this year, a figure that's expected to rise. No deaths have been reported.
Almost all of the cases so far have been reported since March, when several companies began to market the packets. A handful of children have been hospitalized for several days.
Texas reported 71 instances of exposure this year, all but one in March or later. Missouri reported 25 cases related to the packets, and Illinois reported 26.
Some children might be confusing the tubs of colorfully swirled detergent packets for bowls of candy, said Bruce D. Anderson, director of operations at the Maryland Poison Center. Maryland has reported 15 cases this year.
"Kids are very bright and will find a way to get to something that they want to get to," he said.
Dr. Michael Buehler of the Carolinas Poison Center said Tide's tougher lid could make a difference.
"In a nutshell, yes, it would be good, but I don't know enough," Buehler said. "It's too early to tell."
Spokesmen for other detergent-makers did not immediately say if they also planned changes. Sun Products Corp., which makes "mighty pacs" sold under the all brand name, is evaluating its packaging, spokeswoman Kathryn Corbally said. Henkel Consumer Goods, which distributes Purex Ultrapacks, declined to say if any changes were planned. A spokesman for Arm & Hammer detergent did not immediately respond to questions.
The packets appear to cause more severe symptoms than typical detergent, possibly because a single packet has a full cup's worth of detergent or because the packets might activate more quickly or differently.
In suburban Philadelphia, a 17-month-old boy climbed onto a dresser and popped a detergent package in his mouth. The boy vomited, became drowsy and started coughing, said Dr. Fred Henretig of the Poison Control Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The boy was put on a ventilator for a day and hospitalized for a week.
Associated Press reporters Sarah Brumfield in Baltimore, Carla K. Johnson in Chicago, Matt Moore in Philadelphia and Maria Sudekum in Kansas City, Mo., contributed to this report.Click here to download our mobile app for your iOS and Android device.