Law would change candy-like design of laundry detergent packets

A proposed law would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to set new safety standards for liquid detergent packets, to prevent cases of child poisoning from the packs that can resemble candy. 

Since 2012, the Minnesota Poison Control System has reported nearly 800 cases of detergent packet poisoning, including a 2014 incident that forced a 13-month-old girl to spend a week in the intensive care unit. The Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act, authored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), would require the following prevention measures within 18 months:

Child-proof packaging for the container holding liquid detergent packets

Changes to design and color of the packets to make them less appealing to children

Composition of packets modified to make consequences of exposure less severe

Proper warning labels that adequately inform consumers of the potential risks

"Detergent packets are a big convenience and time-saver for families, but we need to make sure they aren't putting our kids at risk of poisoning," Klobuchar said. "These flashy, bite-sized packets may look like candy to young children, but they can cause serious physical harm when swallowed. We've seen an alarming uptick in poisoning cases involving detergent packets in recent years, and we need to take action to ensure they come with the same commonsense safety measures and warnings that are standard practice on other household products."

Detergent pod poisoning cases in Minnesota

2012: 49 cases

2013: 349 cases

2014: 352 cases

2015: 42 cases so far

Between 2012 and 2013, more than 17,000 children were exposed to detergent pods nationwide

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