Child Safe Packaging Standards for Laundry Pods Approved

Child Safe Packaging Standards for Laundry Pods Approved
Image: NCCC
September 17, 2015

The vibrant colors in laundry detergent pods may be a thing of the past after the approval of a new packaging protocol.

According to the New York Times, ASTM International has developed the first safety standard for the product known to pose a danger to children, who mistake the colorful items for candy or teething toys. The standard was negotiated over the past year by representatives from the laundry industry, the medical industry, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Richard Sedlak of the American Cleaning Institute believes that the recommendations will greatly reduce the frequency childhood poisonings by laundry pods. However, the standards are not mandatory, and manufacturers have not released timelines for when product redesign will occur.

"I don't know if it will stop children from being poisoned by these products," Elliot F. Kaye, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, told the New York Times. But "the creation of a standard that has these elements is better than the lack of one, no doubt about that."

In 2014, almost 12,000 children under the age of 6 ingested or inhaled the dangerous contents of laundry packets, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Based on totals through August of this year, that number is expected to be higher by the end of 2015.

ASTM is recommending that manufacturers add a bitter taste to the film encasing the detergent, which should convince children not to put the pods in their mouths. In addition, the group suggests that laundry pod containers be made opaque (to avoid children's temptation) and harder to open.

Dr. Frederick M. Henretig, a toxicologist at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, considers the addition of a bitter taste to be "ludicrous."

"Kids bite into these things almost instantly as they pop them into their mouths," he told the New York Times. "The game is won in keeping it out of the kid's mouth. Once it goes in, it's game over."

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