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CU: Investigate safety hazards of detergent packets


September 25, 2012

Consumers Union calls for investigation into safety hazards of detergent packets

WASHINGTON — Consumers Union (CU), the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, today wrote the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) about the growing concerns surrounding single-use detergent packets, following reports of children who swallow the small, colorful — and toxic — household products.
“Since the beginning of the year, poison-control centers have received almost 3,000 calls regarding exposure to single-use laundry and dishwasher detergent packs involving children age five or younger,” CU wrote. “The small size of these packets makes them accessible to children, and the colors and textures of certain products could be attracting children in ways that conventional detergents do not. As a result, children are suffering serious injuries.”
CU said Procter and Gamble recently announced plans to introduce a double-latch lid for its Tide Pods containers. But the nonprofit organization said much more should be done, urging all manufacturers to step up their efforts to make the products safer and prevent easy access by children. CU also asked the CPSC to investigate the matter and consider regulations to require adequate child-safe packaging, as well as prominent warning labels, for single-use detergent packs.
See below for the full letter:
September 25, 2012
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
4330 East West Highway Bethesda, MD 20814
Dear Chairman Tenenbaum:
Consumers Union, the public policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, writes to you regarding the dangers posed to children from single-use detergent packets.
Since the beginning of the year, poison-control centers have received almost 3,000 calls regarding exposure to single-use laundry and dishwasher detergent packs involving children age five or younger. The small size of these packets makes them accessible to children, and the colors and textures of certain products could be attracting children in ways that conventional detergents do not.
As a result, children are suffering serious injuries.
In some cases, children have been placed on ventilators or have undergone surgery to treat swelling and ulceration injuries from exposure to the detergents. Consumers Union recently joined Senator Charles Schumer at a press conference urging a federal solution, as well as manufacturer action, to protect children from these detergents.
In recognition of this growing problem, Procter and Gamble recently announced plans to introduce a double-latch lid for its Tide Pods containers. However, we are concerned that the old packing is still being sold in stores. All manufacturers should step up their efforts to make these products safer and to prevent easy access by children. In addition to improving the packaging (through effective child-resistant packaging and prominent warning labels, for example), manufacturers should consider changing the color of these products or package them in opaque wrapping or plastic to make them less appealing to children.
We urge you to investigate this matter quickly and consider regulations to require adequate child-safe packaging, as well as prominent warning labels, for single-use detergent packs. In addition, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss with you additional ways to better communicate the dangers to children that are associated with this product.
Sincerely,
Ellen Bloom
Senior Director, Federal Policy and Washington Office
Ami V. Gadhia
Senior Policy Counsel
Cc: Commissioners Nord, Northup, and Adler
Media contact: David Butler, 202-462-6262