In a tragic reminder of how very important it is to keep brightly colored, squishy detergent pods that resemble candy away from children, a 7-month-old boy died after eating one in Florida last week. In this case, it didn’t matter what kind of container the pods were in (like these clear, easy-open Costco bins), as the child reportedly took only a moment to snag one of the packets from the laundry basket his mother had place them in.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the mother was staying at a battered women’s shelter, which had given out the pods for use by residents. She placed them in a laundry basket on the bed next to where her son was sleeping, and stepped away only for a moment.
By the time she returned it appears her son had already ingested one of the packets of cleaning chemicals and was chewing on another, said a police spokeswoman.
“I didn’t realize how potent those things are,” said the police spokeswoman, which is likely the reaction of many consumers who purchase the pods.
The baby was transported to a local hospital, where his condition went from bad to worse and he passed away. If it’s confirmed that the detergent pod was the cause of death, it will be the first reported death in the country tied to the packets. In 2013 alone, there have been more than 5,000 cases of kids sickened by them, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, said this tragic incident reminds the public of the dangers of these highly-concentrated detergent pods.
Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, said, “Children may mistake these laundry pods for candy because of their colorful appearance and soft, squishy texture. The ingestion of these highly-concentrated packets can cause excessive vomiting, lethargy, gasping, or loss of breath.”
In addition, Gadhia says companies “should consider changing the color of the pods to make them less appealing or coating them with a foul-tasting material.”
Procter & Gamble recently announced a change from its previous use of clear, fishbowl-like containers for the pods, to an opaque orange bin that would serve to discourage children from opening them and potentially ingesting the pods.
Infant dies after ingesting detergent pod [Orlando Sentinel]