P&G grapples with how to stop a Tide Pods meme

Procter & Gamble has launched a new safety campaign following reports on social media that some teenagers are eating Tide laundry pods as a challenge.

Procter & Gamble has launched a new safety campaign following reports on social media that some teenagers are eating Tide laundry pods as a challenge. Since the pods were launched in 2012, the company has changed the appearance of the packaging to make them look less like candy, added a bitter taste to the product, and made commercials warning parents to keep the pods out of reach of young children. The company took additional steps after videos posted online show some teens making a game out of biting into and even vaping the liquid in the Tide Pods. In a video P&G posted to social media sites, football star Rob Gronkowski says: "No. No. No. What the heck is going on people. Use Tide Pods for washing, not eating." Additionally, P&G asked YouTube and Facebook to remove videos of teens eating the pods and responded directly to users. Through its Twitter account, Tide has recommended that users who have mentioned participating in the challenge call a physician or the national poison help hotline. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there have been 40 reports of people aged 13–19 years intentionally ingesting laundry pods since the beginning of the year. There were 53 such cases in 2017 and 39 in 2016. "This is not about a 2-year-old grabbing something or a senior citizen with Alzheimer's, this is people intent on doing this challenge," said Bruce Ruck, a pharmacist and managing director of the New Jersey Poison Education and Information System at Rutgers University. He noted this challenge is worrying due to its social nature as well as the tendency of teenagers to move from one risky trend to another. Experts note that other recent risky social-media challenges involve cinnamon and bath salts.