Childhood poisonings from a new type of detergent packet have soared in recent weeks, experts say, with the total climbing to more than 1,200 this week from about 200 in late May.
Health authorities have been concerned since late March, when poison control centers around the country noted a small number of reports from parents whose children had opened and swallowed the brightly colored laundry detergent products, which are small enough to fit in a child’s palm and may be mistaken for candy. The detergent packets were introduced by a various companies over the winter as a convenience that can be easily dropped into a washing machine.
But because of their bite-size shape and candylike colors, many toddlers and small children have been eating them. Poison control centers first starting putting out alerts about two to three months ago, not long after the products were introduced in the United States. By late May, the number of reported cases had reached 200 to 250 nationwide, prompting widespread news media attention and an announcement from Tide, which makes one of the most popular forms of the products, that the company would change its packaging to make the packets more difficult for children to tamper with.
Doctors involved with poison control centers say they don’t yet know why the packets are more dangerous, why children getting the contents into their systems are suffering such severe reactions. Fine. How about getting this crap out of the stores?