Please Beware Liquid Detergent Capsules – A Child Has Died From Ingesting One

August 16, 2013

The Risks of Pretty Colored Detergent Capsules – A Child’s Death

detergentWhen I was a child my mother gave me grape cough syrup. I loved the flavor and color. As a result, my mother made it very clear to me that the cough syrup was medication and I was not to ever touch it and she put the syrup where I couldn’t reach it. But children get into things. They are attracted by pretty colors or things that taste good. So even if a mother warns a child, or if a child is too young to understand the warning, tragedy can result. Unfortunately, children are currently attracted to brightly colored dishwasher and laundry liquid detergent capsules and tabs. They are often pretty greens and bright blues. They are similar in size to candy. Back in 2012, the CDC warned about these kinds of capsules. It was concerned that a child would eat one and become very ill, given the concentrated nature of the detergent.

Unfortunately, the worst has happened and a 7 month old baby died after ingesting a liquid detergent capsule.  Our hearts goes out to the family of this beautiful little boy.

Product Warnings and Safety

Over the years, as product warnings have increased, we have all joked about how unnecessary some of these warnings are. Labels warning us that coffee is hot. Or that explosives can explode. Even I will joke, “those darn lawyers,” causing everyone in the room to crack up, that a lawyer would say such a thing.

But here is the reality. It would be obvious to an adult or even a teenager that he or she should not ingest a laundry or washing detergent capsule. But it won’t be obvious to a child. And even if that child cannot read, the reminder on the product might just cause the parent to be careful where he stores the product.

How Often Do Children Eat These Capsules?

“Since the start of this year, poison-control centers across the country have reported 5,753 cases of children 5 years old and under being accidentally exposed to single-dose detergent packets made by companies including P&G, Henkel and others. That was close to the 6,231 cases reported for all of last year,” reports the Wall Street Journal. I imagine that number will continue to increase as liquid detergent capsules become more popular.

The issue here is one that has come up before for dangers to children. The capsules are bright, and pretty, and to young children, they look like candy.  Take a look at the image at the start of this post and the one below.  Then ask yourself, what might a child see when he looks at these when parent mistakenly drops one on the floor, or accidentally leaves one in reach of grabby fingers? Perhaps a piece of candy? Or a treat of some kind? Parents have enough to worry about. Companies should not make dangerous products that appeal to children so much that they will want to eat them.

Products Need to be Made Safely

There is absolutely no reason that over 6,000 children in the United States needed to have their lives risked last year, or that almost 6,000 children have had their lives endangered this year, because these capsules look so pretty and inviting. These detergent companies are asking for a product liability case against themselves by creating products that are so attractive, so easily swallowed by a child, and so dangerous should a very young child ingest one.

Hopefully, the detergent companies will take a look at what has happened in this very sad case, and do something to make these detergent pods a bit less appealing looking.  No matter what they look like, they will work just as well.  I would rather see no children swallow these packets than have even one child’s life placed at risk simply because the product “needs” to look pretty on a store shelf.

Please Contact Us If Your Child Is Injured

Dennis Abrams, our Senior Litigator, walked in as I was writing this post. I told him what happened, and he was as outraged as I am. When I tell Jeff, he will feel the same way. We at this law firm feel very strongly that no child should be harmed because a inedible product is made to look like a yummy piece of candy. If your child swallowed a detergent capsule or other item, the first thing to do is call poison control and make sure your child is taken care of properly. Once your child is safe, the second thing to do is to let a lawyer know.  We need to make sure these companies understand the risk, and not trade lives to make their products prettier on the shelves.

Please keep the family who lost their baby in your prayers. We will.


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