A pair of New York Democrats have introduced a bill in the New York State Assembly that they say is necessary to combat the consumption of Tide Pods. The bill would require the pods to be packaged in a uniform color, as well as requiring each pod to be individually wrapped in plastic complete with a warning label.
What the heck?
Teenagers and some young adults have started an internet trend called the "Tide Pod challenge," in which they post videos online of themselves with Tide Pods in their mouth.
Although the source of the problem is clearly the fact that reckless stupidity can get you internet fame, New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas — both New York City Democrats — believe that the problem is that people somehow do not understand the danger associated with swallowing commercial cleaning products, or perhaps that Tide Pods actually look appetizing to some people because of their colorful design.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there have been over 80 cases of intentional misuse of Tide Pods reported in 2018, up from only 53 cases in all of 2017.
Although a number of cases of child poisoning due to Tide Pods are reported every year, that number is not out of line with other, similar household products, which strongly suggests that the product is not objectively more dangerous to children due to its packaging or colorful design.
Nonetheless, the New York legislators believe that packaging, rather than intentional misuse of an obviously dangerous product, is to blame.
According to USA Today, Simotas said at a news conference announcing the bill that "We want to make sure these poisonings are prevented. It’s easy. All we have to make sure is that public safety trumps their profits." It is not clear why Simotas believes that making Tide Pods monocrhromatic will make them less profitable.
How did the product's manufacturer respond?
Proctor & Gamble, which manufactures the Tide Pods, responded in a statement by pointing out studies which have shown that colorful packaging does not increase the risk of child ingestion of dangerous products. Also, the spokesman noted that requiring an additional layer of plastic wrapping around the pods would have detrimental environmental effects, as well as creating another possible ingestion hazard for children.
The statement also noted, "Finally, consumers have a choice: Those who prefer single colored pac can use Tide Free and Gentle, which is all-white. Tide is also available in a liquid and powder product form."
On Jan. 22, the company also posted a statement to its corporate blog that pled for people to stop eating Tide Pods. "Ensuring the safety of the people who use our products is fundamental to everything we do at P&G," the statement said. "However, even the most stringent standards and protocols, labels and warnings can’t prevent intentional abuse fueled by poor judgment and the desire for popularity."