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Tide Pod Takeover

Posted on: February 12, 2018
Someone eating a Tide Pod

by: Lila Gerdes

Poison control centers around the country have seen a spike in poisoning cases since the new year, directly related to the internet mock-trend of eating laundry pods.

In the first fifteen days of the new year, poison control centers in the U.S. encountered thirty-nine cases of poisoning from laundry pods associated with the laundry pod challenge. This originally satirical challenge has become such a huge topic of discussion so quickly that there is a Wikipedia page for it, titled Tide Pod challenge. It began when young people started posting videos on YouTube of themselves biting in to the pods, chewing them up, or even cooking them in frying pans. In these videos, the teenagers, hoping to get a laugh out of people, cough, gag, and even begin foaming at their mouths.

The problem with this challenge is that kids aren’t aware of what the pods are actually made of.

Laundry pods are designed to dissolve easily in water, meaning they are even more easily dissolved in your saliva that is specialized to break down the substances that enter the mouth. Once the outer layer is broken or dissolved, the colorful contents of the pods are released into your mouth. The laundry detergent inside laundry pods is not like normal laundry detergent, however. According to Eric J. Moorhead, president and principal scientist of Good Chemistry LLC, the contents of a laundry pod is much more highly concentrated with chemicals that are meant to remove stains from fabric-- fabric that is much more resilient than the skin of your mouth or throat.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission claims that the laundry packets have commonly led to hospitalization due to difficulty breathing, temporary vision loss, and loss of consciousness for those exposed to the chemicals they contain. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the chemical ingredients contained in laundry pods can also cause fluid in the lungs, respiratory arrest, coma, and death.

Tide’s mother company, Procter & Gamble has responded to the trend, stating that they are “deeply concerned about conversations related to intentional and improper use of liquid laundry pacs.” While Tide says that they will not remove the pods from the shelves of supermarkets, many concerned businesses and parents urge Tide to do just that. The CEO and branding expert of Turkel Brands, Bruce Turkel, thinks that Tide and P&G need to remove the laundry pods from stores and “put them back in a way that does not look edible, appetizing, exciting, or anything else.”

This poses an underlying question: would this really stop the type of teenagers that choose to eat laundry detergent in the first place?