Teenagers are eating detergent pods. The online trend is worrying doctors and parents.
Videos have been appearing online in which teenagers gorge on colourful capsules more traditionally used to wash items of clothing.
The craze began last year when a student filmed himself munching on Tide Pods, the most popular choice of brand. To most, the whole thing is a joke, but some bolder teens have gone so far as to tuck in.
Over the last month, the ‘Tide Pod Challenge’ has taken off. Teens are seen popping them in their mouths, eating the liquid and even cooking with the tablets.
The lure is thought to be down to aesthetic. Detergent capsules, and Tide Pods particularly, look fairly enticing. The colourful liquid makes the pouches resemble sweets, and the soft casing feels nice and squidgy.
One unnamed teenager told BuzzFeed that she heard about the craze on a Whatsapp challenge group and decided to record herself biting into one before sharing her meal on Twitter. Her mum demanded she take it down. She eventually complied.
“I wasn’t scared because I knew I wasn’t going to swallow it,” she said. “Just bite into it. And I washed my mouth out for quite some time afterwards.”
Back in 2015, The Onion published a joke piece from the perspective of a child who wanted more than anything to eat a blue and red detergent pod. Little did the satirical site know that it was being prophetic at the time.
Now, doctors, parents, and manufacturers are begging youngsters to stop eating laundry liquid. It’s dangerous. In 2017, more than 10,000 children were exposed to washing detergent.
The substance is poisonous and poses serious health risks if ingested.
Dr. Alfred Aleguas Jr., managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, told USA Today that the fad may even be ‘life-threatening’. Most pod eating seems to happen in America.
According to Dr Aleguas Jr, swallowing even a small amount of the highly-concentrated detergent found in pods can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Enough of it would lead to breathing difficulties – and possibly worse.
“Ending up in the emergency room is no joke,” he said.
Tide has a page on its website dedicated to safe handling of its products, and advises consumers to drink a glass of water or milk if a product is swallowed and call for help.
“Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes … They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if meant as a joke,” Tide said in a statement.