It has to be one of P&G’s worst nightmares—kids are popping Tide Pods in their mouths as part of a Tide Pod Challenge that’s been sweeping YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram.
— US Consumer Product Safety Commission (@USCPSC) January 13, 2018
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an alert on Jan. 12th. The cause for alarm—in the first two weeks of this year, Fortune reports, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reported 39 cases of deliberate ingestion of the single-load laundry detergent capsules.
That’s the same number reported in all of 2016; last year 2017, there were 53 cases of intentional exposure. Since 2012, eight fatalities have been reported among children 5 and younger, according to the AAPCC.
The @tide Twitter account has been responding to queries and claims of poisoning:
Contact your doctor or your local poison control center. When you're feeling better, please call us at 1-800-879-8433. We're open M-F from 9-6 ET.
— Tide (@tide) January 18, 2018
— Mark Berman (@markberman) January 18, 2018
Tide also released a video on January 12th across social media featuring the New England Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski. The message: “What should Tide PODs be used for? DOING LAUNDRY. Nothing else. Eating a Tide POD is a BAD IDEA, and we asked our friend @robgronkowski to help explain.”
What should Tide PODs be used for? DOING LAUNDRY. Nothing else.
— Tide (@tide) January 12, 2018
The American Association of Poison Control Centers issued another alert this week about the obvious dangers of eating laundry detergent and thanked YouTube for removing videos.
YouTube has been actively searching for and removing the challenge videos in tandem with Tide’s social media accounts warning against the stunt while responding to any messages indicating an accidental ingestion.
Thank you @YouTube for taking down "Laundry Packet Challenge" videos! Continue to circulate the dangers of this challenge to everyone you know. Call 1-800-222-1222 in case of exposure or text POISON to 797979 to save the number in their phone. #laundry https://t.co/P8tBhFVVmi
— AAPCC (@AAPCC) January 18, 2018
While some of the Tide Pod Challenge social media posts are pranks and the actual number of actual incidents may be low, it’s a viral meme that appears to be dying down.
It was a successor that started late last year to other social media memes—the Ice Bucket Challenge, the hop on an invisible box challenge, the “gallon challenge,” the “cinnamon challenge” and the “bath-salt challenge” and so on—only this one sees encourages biting into Tide’s brightly colored detergent packets and recording the results in videos posted on social media channels.
Others shot videos of frying the pods and then chewing them before spewing the soap from their mouths, according to the Washington Post.
— Vera Sweeney (@VeraSweeney) December 14, 2017
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a warning in 2013 about the liquid laundry detergent packets, while the American Academy of Pediatrics has raised the alarm too. The candy-like colorful and squishy contain “highly concentrated, toxic detergent” that’s more lethal than regular laundry detergent.
Procter & Gamble has stepped up its public educational campaigns to warn against the dangers of exposure to the pods, and has already made the gelatin film of its pods stronger and bitter-tasting. The company says that as a result accidental exposures among children have decreased more than 40%.
As puzzled as you might expect at the social media stunt, P&G commented in a statement: “We are deeply concerned about conversations related to intentional and improper use of liquid laundry pacs and have been working with leading social media networks to remove harmful content that is not consistent with their policies.”
One Brooklyn, NY, pizzeria’s idiotic attempt to cash in on the craze:
Introducing: PIEd Pods. Listen. We're concerned about the youths. They're eating laundry detergent pods. Our Pied Pods (filled w/cheese and roni) have that bright, alluring colors that youths crave BUT are 100% edible and 100% not soap. Plus they're delicious. #vinniesbrooklyn pic.twitter.com/ck4eni31VX
— Vinnie's Pizzeria (@vinniesbrooklyn) January 18, 2018
Suffice to say, don’t try this at home, kids—even if someone tells you to wash your mouth out with soap.