Poisoning concerns prompt Procter & Gamble to change Tide Pods packaging

Consumer advocates push for tougher standards

CINCINNATI - For the second time in 14 months, Procter & Gamble Co. has announced a packaging change to its Tide Pods product, which has been linked to poisoning cases.

The new package replaces Tide Pods' clear plastic bags and tubs with opaque plastic.

Last May, the company introduced a double-latch lid for Tide Pods tubs, after criticism that small children were mistaking the clear containers with bright-colored laundry pods for candy jars.

P&G also announced an alliance with the American Academy of Pediatrics on its Safe Home initiative, which educates consumers on the safe storage and correct use of household cleaning and laundry products.

P&G hired Dr. Alanna LeVine, a New York -based pediatrician, as its national spokesperson for the Safe Home campaign.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that more than 10,000 children, five and younger, were exposed to concentrated packets of laundry detergent since January, 2012. P&G is not the only maker of unit-dose laundry detergent, but it is the category leader.

Launched in February of 2012, P&G said the product's first-year sales reached $500 million. The association doesn’t provide a breakdown of which products were ingested the most.

"Some children who have gotten the product into their mouths have had excessive vomiting, wheezing and gasping," said an alert on the website for the nation's 57 poison control centers. "Some have had breathing problems serious enough to need a ventilator."

In Bethesda, Md. on Wednesday, Consumers Union asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission to make laundry detergent pods a priority.

"We continue to urge CPSC to investigate this product and adopt stricter standards," said Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports magazine.

"This is a high priority issue for the agency," said Scott Wolfson, spokesman for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. "It is an issue that we are investigating."

Wolfson declined to comment whether P&G packaging changes were ordered by the agency, directing the question to P&G.

"We share the same goal as the CPSC in preventing accidental exposures. We are working cooperatively with them to jointly develop the action steps we have announced," said Samantha Lee, a senior account supervisor at DeVries Public Relations in New York. The agency assisted P&G in the Safe Home campaign launch.

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