Tide Pods were introduced to the market in 2012. Since then, laundry detergent pods have become very popular among American consumers. For several years, Consumer Reports has warned people about the dangers associated with laundry pods and children. Pods can look like candy and children can bite into them. These pods had hurt about 17,000 kids by 2014. However, after investigating the deaths recently reported from laundry packs, Consumer Reports concluded that these pods could be more fatal to adults suffering from moderate to aggressive dementia, than children. The laundry pods cold result in anything from irritation in the eye to diarrhea, drowsiness, and trouble breathing. These pods are more dangerous than other forms of cleaning chemicals and detergents and account for a large fraction of calls to poison control centers.
An Australian study in 2016 found that individuals who have dementia tend to excessively overeat high-sugar foods. A report published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission also claims that laundry pods can be fatal to adults with dementia as the capsules can be mistaken for sweets. The report found that adults with dementia ate several laundry pods before they fell ill. Over the past five years, six adults and two children have died as a result of ingesting laundry pods. Five out of the six adult deaths were in the United States.
For several years, safety advocates have argued that squished and colorful packets of laundry pods resemble candy, and hence, should be redesigned.
Proctor & Gamble is the leading seller of laundry pods. The pods manufactured by the company were involved in six out of the eight deaths. In a statement to NBC News, P&G stated: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of life among people living with dementia.” P&G reported that over the past year, it has been “formally collaborating” with the Alzheimer’s Association to prevent such deaths. In the past few months, P&G has been working towards developing enhanced warning labels and harder-to-open packaging. The company has already changed the packaging design to make the pods less kid-friendly after they received over 250 calls about children consuming the pods. The deaths have also pushed other organizations to redesign their packets, to further decrease the fatalities.
In the United States, approximately 5.4 million adults have Alzheimer’s disease. The American Cleaning Institute recommends caregivers of adults who have dementia to store laundry pods under lock and key. Furthermore, Consumer Reports advised, “family members caring for anyone who is cognitively impaired to not keep pods in the home.” The organization has been working towards ensuring that new provisions, such as making pods taste bitter, are enforced.