Grandmother's petition seeks changes to laundry pods

Claudine Zap
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Tide Pods now in opaque package (Business Wire)

Laundry detergent pods may be a convenience, but the brightly colored packets can be dangerously appealing to children.

So far in 2013, poison control centers around the country have received more than 6,000 reports of exposure to the concentrated laundry cleaners from children ages 5 and younger, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Brands that offer the product include Arm & Hammer, Purex and Tide.

"Children might be attracted to pods because their colorful appearance and size are similar to candy," the Centers for Disease Control noted in a 2012 report that singled out laundry packets as being responsible for most of the exposures in young children.

In July, Procter and Gamble announced new measures to further secure its product, Tide Pods. The detergent pods now come in an opaque, hard-plastic container with a double-latch lid safety feature.

Erica Johnson, 41, started a petition on to add additional safety measures to the pods, which she argues, are a risk once they are out of the container. The petition has already received more than 26,000 signatures.

On September 13, Johnson’s 15-month-old grandson, Dakari, bit into a Tide Pods packet that Johnson had wrapped in clothes headed for the washing machine. The child became ill immediately, suffering from respiratory distress, rashes, diarrhea, and vomiting. He was rushed to the hospital, where he spent two nights.

“It needs to be individually wrapped or secured,” Johnson told Yahoo News. She no longer uses the brightly colored pods “because it’s literally a ball of toxic poison and it needs to be handled that way,” she said.

Procter and Gamble did not respond to a request for a comment from Yahoo News.

“Our message at Consumer Product Safety Commission is that the laundry packages are loads of temptation to children and that the ingredients are poisonous,” spokesman Scott Wolfson told Yahoo News.

The commission has launched a campaign to alert consumers to the potential hazards of the product. In August, the detergent industry began to institute safety standards for laundry packets, such as consistent warning labels and a move toward opaque packaging.

Johnson would like to see even more done, such as each pod being individually wrapped. “I just think this is a no-brainer, you know,” Johnson said. "If a product on the market is that toxic, it should be known.”