Laundry Detergent Pods an 'Emerging Public Health Hazard' Among Kids, Says CDC

Parents say kids mistake the detergent pods for bright, colorful candy.

ByABC News
October 19, 2012, 2:55 AM

Oct. 19, 2012— -- There's a new warning for parents who use laundry pods about how kids are mistaking them for bright, colorful candy and eating them.

There were 1,008 cases of detergent poisoning among kids during a 30-day period this summer, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Thursday. Of those reported cases, 486 were linked to pods. Poison centers across the country were seeing an average of 10 cases a day, the CDC reported in May.

Ninety-four percent of poisonings from laundry detergent are among kids younger than 6, according to the CDC report, and in these children, those who consumed pods were usually sicker than those who ingested other forms of laundry detergent.

The CDC says that exposure to the detergent pods is "an emerging public health hazard in the United States."

Parents are learning just how dangerous the bite-sized, single-dose of laundry detergent pods really can be. The concentrated packet of detergent sent 1-year-old Isabella Sutton to the hospital after she ate one.

"I just figured they got into candy, and they were eating candy," Jessica Sutton, Isabella's mom, told ABC News earlier this year.

Minutes later, Isabella had severe vomiting and diarrhea before being rushed to the emergency room. Similar reactions have been reported across the country with many children also experiencing drowsiness, nausea and potentially life-threatening symptoms such as difficulty breathing.

"You don't think about safety-proofing laundry detergent," Sutton said.

The makers of Tide detergent - Proctor & Gamble - told ABC News in May they planned to unveil new childproof packaging by the summer. The new packaging features a double-latch lid and a larger warning label on the container that some critics say looks like a candy jar.

Proctor & Gamble has distributed the new containers but never recalled the old ones. ABC News visited four stores this week and found the old easy-to-open plastic containers on shelves.

Proctor & Gamble told ABC News that it is adding an over-the-lid resealable sticker that will "gradually be available as of December in stores."

Consumers who would like to use the resealable sticker earlier can do so by calling 1-877-751-7227, beginning Nov. 1.

Henkel -- the maker of Purex Ultra Packs -- told ABC News that, since May, is has "updated the packaging with clearer labels to warn parents about the risks and to provide more specific instructions in the event of ingestion."

Other detergent manufacturers who previously told ABC News in May that they were reviewing the safety packaging did not respond to requests for an update.

Until changes are made, poison control experts say, the onus falls on the parents to keep the detergent packets locked up and out of the reach of children.