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The “Tide Pod” Challenge – An Attorney’s Perspective

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The "Tide Pod" Challenge has been in the news recently as a result of its increasing popularity and general awareness in social media circles. In essence, the "Tide Pod" Challenge involves primarily kids biting into brightly colored liquid laundry detergent packets, or cooking them in frying pans, then chewing them up before spewing the soap from their mouths, according to this article from the Washington Post. These acts are recorded and posted on social media. 

However, these packets contain highly-concentrated laundry detergent which should not be ingested. The parent company, Proctor & Gamble, has issued warnings about the dangers of this activity and is taking this matter very seriously. YouTube is flagging videos about this activity and removing them from their site.

The question for those of us who have neither the desire nor inclination to film ourselves eating laundry detergent is "Why are people doing this in the first place?" At the outset, it must be noted that these packets are small, brightly colored and smell nice. In fact, in 2013, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) issued a warning about these products and the dangers of ingestion. The attraction to children is obvious: "The soft and colorful product can be easily mistaken by a child for candy, toys, or a teething product."  

However, the Tide Pod challenge is different than accidental ingestion by a child. The Tide Pod challenge is an intentional ingestion for purposes of social media promotion. This brings the question as to what is the potential liability for Proctor & Gamble at this time? Does their product need to be re-designed? Are their warnings sufficient? Should these products be taken off the market?

An experienced product liability lawyer will conduct an analysis of this product to make a determination as to liability while also keeping mind the liability of the user who deliberately chooses to ingest this product despite knowing the potential risks to his/her health. 

Large corporations in the United States are responsible for selling a plethora of products to consumers each year and in turn, collecting billions of dollars in profits. These corporations, according to New York State law have a legal, as well as a moral, obligation to ensue that there products are safe for use and consumption and are not defective in any manner. These products must be designed with a combination of both safety and utility being properly balanced. If there is known or likely danger associated with the product, the danger should be designed out of the product if at all possible without destroying the utility of the product. If the danger cannot be reasonably designed out of the product, the danger must be guarded against to the extent it is reasonably possible without destroying the utility of the product. Finally, if the danger cannot be designed out or guarded against, the manufacturer must include proper warnings of the danger to the end-user of the product.

In the case where the product could be potentially harmful to the consumer’s safety, it is imperative that these corporations provide a proper warning. If corporations fail to provide the aforementioned warnings and knowingly and thus, negligently, sell dangerous products that may injure or seriously harm consumers, such companies can be held liable for their actions. Unfortunately, many of the injuries that result due to defective products could have been prevented had the manufacturer exercised the required degree of caution during the design of the product or provided consumers with adequate warnings regarding the hazardous consequences of using the product in a certain way.

In the Tide Pod challenge matter, if any liability is possible, it would seem to rest on a failure to adequately warn of the dangers, although this would seem unlikely to be successful.

Every year the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission investigates cases of injury cased by defective products, but thousands more go unreported. It is imperative that if you have been the victim of an injustice, you take steps towards preventing its occurrence in the future. Fighting large corporations for compensation can be a lengthy and tedious process but the experienced attorneys at Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool do their best to expedite the process.

Our cases are accepted on a contingency fees basis, that is, no monetary recovery is expected from you unless and until our firm is able to secure compensation on your behalf. In which cases, our legal fees are a mere fraction of the compensation that you receive.

In that case that you, or a loved one, have sustained an injury or been killed due to a defective or hazardous product do not hesitate to contact the New York law office of Queller, Fisher, Washor, Fuchs & Kool today to schedule a free consultation appointment, during which we will assess the strength and validity of your claim. Call us today at 212-406-1700 or contact us on-line.