Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) announced legislation Friday that would set safety standards for liquid detergent packets, in an effort to protect children from the poisonous substance.
"For kids, when they see a colorful looking pod, it is appealing," Klobuchar said. "They look like a little piece of candy."
She was joined at Hennepin County Medical Center by the family of a 13-month-old Minnesota girl that bit into a laundry detergent pod in July. Zoe was hospitalized in an intensive care unit with severe poisoning and was eventually diagnosed with first and second-degree burns in her throat.
"She couldn't speak and she had to be fed through a feeding tube in her nose," Klobuchar said.
Zoe will have to continue to be monitored for the development of scar tissue on her vocal chords and in her throat for the rest of her life, Klobuchar said.
"All of this happened because of the rather harmless looking detergent pods," she said.
The Minnesota Poison Control System reported a 600 percent increase in poisoning incidents related to detergent packages, jumping from 49 cases in 2012 to 352 in 2014. Between 2012 and 2013, more than 17,000 children were exposed to these pods nationwide.
Klobuchar said her plan is not to put the detergent pods out of business, "but the question is, how do we make them less accessible to kids?"
The Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act, authored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and co-sponsored by Klobuchar 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
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