How Legislators Plan to Stop People from Eating All Those Dang Tide Pods

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, who co-introduced the bill, sought action after her own daughter was "attracted to" the sight of a detergent pod three years ago.

|
Feb 7 2018, 8:17pm

Photo via Flickr user Austin Kirk

Folks, I come bearing more news on the Tide Pod beat, in case you haven't yet tired of reading about this breathtakingly stupid meme that has ballooned into a public health crisis.

What’s the best way to get people to stop biting into Tide Pods? Why, it’s a question that’s plagued many great minds! Make edible tide pods, one intrepid Tumblr user-turned-amateur-recipe-developer proposed last month. Put "Pied Pods" on pizza, a Brooklyn pizzeria imagined.

Nonsense. The solution's been right here all along—just make these small sacs of soap look less appetizing, suggest proponents of a bill recirculating within New York’s state legislature.

The bill, the New York Daily News reported on Tuesday, is the brainchild of Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Queens), both of whom are calling for Tide Pods to undergo a total facelift so that they're monochromatic and opaque. That will prevent them from being easily "permeated by a child’s bite.”

This bill is not new, Simotas explained to MUNCHIES over the phone on Wednesday. It was initially introduced in assembly in 2015 but has received a renewed push earlier this week after she and Hoylman noted the Tide Pod Challenge's popularity. Simotas was compelled to introduce this bill three years ago when she came upon her own infant daughter eyeing a detergent pod as if it were candy.

"I want to make sure that companies aren't elevating profits over consumer safety," Sivotas told MUNCHIES. "They should be following consumer safety standards and not trying gain market share by making products look attractive." She points to a statistic from the American Association of Poison Control Centers that suggests over 10,000 children are being poisoned each year by ingesting laundry pods.

The bill aims to accomplish three goals, Simotas explained: to make sure that all laundry pods are uniform in color, that each one is wrapped in individually wrapped in "non-permeable packaging," and that each pod has a conspicuous warning label alerting consumers to the toxicity of its contents.

Simotas and Hoylman, the latter of whom did not respond to immediate request for comment as of writing, wrote a joint letter to Procter & Gamble detailing their concerns earlier this week; they have not received a direct response. The company, however, firmly insisted that it's taken all precautions possible to contain the problem of children eating Tide Pods.

"There is nothing new in these legislative proposals," a Procter & Gamble spokesperson wrote MUNCHIES over email on Wednesday. "We have made our packaging child-resistant. We have a number of partners to help us spread the word to ensure laundry pacs are used safety and stored properly." The company referenced a study conducted by the Poison Control Centers that suggested color does not play a critical role in a child's accidental exposure to laundry pacs so much as availability to young children does, which is why Procter & Gamble has made the packaging "child-resistant" as a remedy.

When it comes to individual wrapping, the spokesperson said the company has looked into that option "extensively" but concluded, following internal studies, that it "would not be helpful in reducing incidents and may have unintended consequences." Individual wrapping is so commonly used for snacks, after all, that accidental ingestion may be a byproduct of such a design implementation. Plus, it wastes plastic.

Well, that's that. Here’s a “Tide Pod challenge” for you, 2018: Please make sure I never have to write about people eating Tide Pods again.

UPDATE, 2/7/18, 4:45PM: When reached by phone on Wednesday afternoon, Senator Hoylman said that "recent social media hijinks" have led to renewed attention towards this bill that he first introduced in 2015. He is particularly concerned about the impact of packaging on such vulnerable populations as infants and adults with dementia who might accidentally ingest pods that "have been scented and designed to look like candy."

"It's not about legislating common sense," he told MUNCHIES regarding the bill. "It’s about legislating protection of preschoolers and infants who have been ingesting and biting into and having adverse encounters with a product that, by most accounts, looks like candy."

He said that the path forward for the bill is contingent on getting traction from his colleagues and continuing to educate New Yorkers that this is a "serious issue."

UPDATE 2/8/18: This article has been updated to clarify that while Simotas' daughter was attracted to a Tide Pod, she did not attempt to ingest it.