Two New York lawmakers want Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tide Pods, to redesign the laundry detergent tablets to make them look less appetizing to children.
They also want legislation requiring stricter packaging standards for the laundry detergent in New York, including a requirement that packets are not “easily permeated by a child’s bite.”
Rep. Aravella Simotas (D-Queens) and Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and consumer advocates are worried about the viral “Tide Pod Challenge,” the social media fad where people are biting into and even ingesting the tablets.
They sent a letter to P&G on Tuesday asking that packaging be redesigned to include clear warning labels, child-resistant wrappers and to make the pods look less tasty, according to The New York Daily News.
The plump little pods are tri-colored with swirls of white, orange and purple. The lawmakers want them to be more uniform in color.
Toxic substances should not be packaged to look like candy or toys which could lure children to eat them, said Simotas.
“They’re squishy, they smell sweet and they look like gummy bears,” Hoylman said, according to The Associated Press.
The two legislators say the pods are a risk to young children and adults with dementia who might mistake them for food. Simotas, who told reporters she uses them, said she once had to snatch one away from her young daughter.
“These little pods are a disaster in the making,” she said.
The “Tide Pod Challenge” has incited a lot of viral, and dangerous, snacking on the pods.
In the first 15 days of 2018, poison control centers reported at least 39 cases of people — mostly teenagers — intentionally eating the pods, according to Fortune. That’s about the number of cases reported in all of 2016.
In a statement, P&G said “there is nothing new in these legislative proposals” from the New York lawmakers.
The Cincinnati-based company said its packaging is already child-resistant, and that poison control center data has proved that “color does not play a critical role in a child’s accidental exposure to laundry pacs.”
In 2015 the company coated the pods with a bitter-tasting substance to discourage biting, Fortune reported.
In response to the “Tide Pod Challenge,” P&G posted warnings and the phone number for the Poison Control Center on its Twitter account, @tide. It’s also worked with both YouTube and Facebook to take down “Tide Pod Challenge” posts.
And, the company enlisted Tide spokesman, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, to make videos for social media warning against eating the pods.
In a post on the company’s website last month, P&G CEO David Taylor urged adults to help young people understand that the “challenge” is “no laughing matter.”
“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.” he wrote.
New York lawmakers who said it’s unnecessary to ask P&G to do more appear to agree with that sentiment.
“There’s no easy way to spin it other than to say the people who are participating in this trend are old enough to know laundry detergent is not safe for consumption,” said Republican Assemblyman Joseph Errigo.
“And the people behind this legislation should know that it’s not the manufacturers who are to blame when people make stupid decisions with their products.”
Incidentally, Procter & Gamble announced Wednesday it would close its Kansas City, Kan., plant, which employs 280 people full time, in 2020.