Consumer Advocates Push for Safety Standards for Detergent Pods

Consumer Advocates Push for Safety Standards for Detergent Pods
Image: NCCC
March 9, 2015

Consumer advocates are pushing for approval of a new law that would set safety standards for popular detergent pods.

Introduced late last month, the Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act, or Detergent PACS Act, would direct the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to develop standards that would make it harder for children to ingest the pods.

The brightly colored pods that are used for cleaning both dishes and laundry contain highly-concentrated detergent formulas that can sicken a child much faster than traditional liquid detergent.

According to Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports and one of the groups pushing for the law's approval, in 2014 poison control centers received more than 11,700 exposures to laundry detergent pods by kids five years old and younger. Since the pods were introduced in 2012, there have been more than 17,200 calls to poison control centers in relation to the pods.

Some children who have put a detergent pod in their mouth have experienced severe reactions such as seizures, excessive vomiting, and respiratory arrest, said the group.

Consumers Union has been calling for stricter standards since 2012, following 700 reports to poison control centers involving young children.

The proposed law, introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dick Durban (D-Ill.) would set standards for the design and color of the packets so they no longer look like candy, add specific warning labels to better inform parents of the risk and change the composition of the detergent to make the consequences of exposure less severe.

"This is a common requirement among many other household products such as medicines and cleaning agents which require child-resistant packaging," wrote the Consumer Federation of America (CFA)in a statement in support of the bill.

The industry, however, does not think the standards are necessary and says that companies are implementing their own standards to make the pods safer.

When the pods first came out they were in clear plastic tubs with flimsy lids. Proctor & Gamble and Costco have since changed the lids to make them harder to open and made the packaging opaque.

Parents and caregivers should use care when using these products around their children. They should be stored out of reach with the top secured.