In a bizarre social media trend, people are biting into capsules of laundry detergent in order to impress followers.
The craze called the ‘Tide Pod Challenge’ involves biting into a Tide Pod (a popular US brand of laundry detergent) that is bright blue and green in colour and looks somewhat like a hard lolly.
Clearly this is a bad idea. The capsules contain high levels of dangerous chemicals, as well as ethanol, polymers and hydrogen peroxide, that are highly poisonous if consumed.
The trend has led to the NSW Poisons Information Centre to make a statement.
“Swallowing or biting into laundry detergent capsules can be incredibly dangerous and potentially life-threatening. The liquid inside is poisonous and should not be consumed,” said Jared Brown, the head of the department.
Authorities in the US are also issuing warnings about the craze. In the first 15 days of 2018, 39 teenagers were reported as being poisoned from the laundry capsules, with the American Association of Poison Control Centres stating that it was a “significant concern”. Outside of the challenge, at least 10 people are known to have died from eating the pods – including two toddlers and eight elderly people with dementia.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission issued the warning that “A meme should not become a family tragedy. Don’t eat poison.”
It’s become enough of a craze that both Facebook and YouTube are cracking down on users who spread ‘Tide Pod Challenge’ videos in order to stop the spread of the trend.
And it’s also prompted Proctor & Gamble, the product’s manufacturer to issue a statement.
“Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes, and they’re used safely in millions of households every day,” the company said.
“They should be only used to clean clothes and kept up, closed and away from children. They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if it is meant as a joke,” they added.
Consuming cleaning products isn’t just a US problem. Around 2500 Australian children are admitted to hospital every year after eating poisonous items – when laundry detergents look and smell like lollies, it can make the problem a whole lot worse.
It’s incredible that we even have to give this food safety advice – but please don’t eat your laundry capsules.