The manufacturer of Tide detergent pods said it’s working with social media networks to remove videos that show people appearing to eat the toxic laundry packets as part of a so-called “Tide Pod Challenge.”
Procter & Gamble’s response comes as poison control centers are already reporting dozens of teenagers’ intentional exposure to the liquid detergent this year. The vast majority of the cases involved ingestion, the American Association of Poison Control Centers said on Tuesday.
“We are deeply concerned about conversations related to intentional and improper use of liquid laundry pacs and have been working with leading social media networks to remove harmful content that is not consistent with their policies,” Petra Renck, a Procter & Gamble spokesperson, told HuffPost on Thursday.
People have been posting online memes and videos that joke about eating the packets, which are brightly colored and resemble candy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted the resemblance in 2012 when it labeled the pods as an “emerging public health hazard in the United States.”
But the CDC’s particular concern was little kids. The number of children age 5 and younger ingesting the pods appears to be on the decline, according to the poison control association, although it still surpasses teen exposures.
“Laundry pacs are made to clean clothes,” Renck said. “They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance, even if meant as a joke. Like all household cleaning products, they must be used properly and stored safely.”
YouTube is actively helping crack down on Tide Pod Challenge and similar videos, a site spokesperson said Thursday ― something the person noted it has been doing for a while now.
“YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm. We work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate our policies,” the spokesperson told HuffPost.
According to YouTube’s Community Guidelines, users must flag such videos as harmful or dangerous in order for them to be removed.
Earlier this week, the poison control association said there have been 39 reported cases of teenagers intentionally exposing themselves to liquid laundry pacs within the first 15 days of this year. In contrast, there were 53 cases of intentional exposure among that same age bracket for all of last year and 39 cases in 2016.
Last Friday, Tide released a public service announcement against eating its products. The spot enlists the help of New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has also spoken out with this warning: “A meme should not become a family tragedy. Don’t eat poison.”
The contents of the pods can cause seizures, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma and even death, according to the poison control association.
If someone does ingest laundry detergent, officials urge people to call the poison control helpline immediately at 800-222-1222.