Free Minds & Free Markets

New York Legislators Unveil Legislation Banning Tide Pods

The next stage of the safety hysteria cycle

Tide PodsKris Tripplaar/Sipa USA/NewscomThe Tide Pod Challenge has reached the next stage of the safety hysteria cycle, with lawmakers proposing legislation to fight an alleged menace.

Not a single child died from consuming a liquid detergent package last year, and the number of child exposure incidents has been falling steadily since 2015. Yet a pair of New York legislators introduced a bill yesterday to keep the colorful laundry aids from being sold in the state.

The bill—sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman (D/WF–Manhattan) and Assemblymember Aravella Simotas (D/WF–Queens)—would require all detergent packages sold in New York to be of a uniform color that is "unattractive to children." The product would also have to come wrapped in child bite–resistant packaging. Also, there would need to be a warning label informing would-be Tide Pod champions that the product is dangerous to eat.

"As the parent of two young kids, I'm very concerned about the safety of liquid detergent packets," Hoylman said in a press release. "It's way past time to fix these products or remove them altogether from store shelves."

Consumer safety activists also released statements of support for the bill. "By clearly marking individual packages with a warning message, I hope teenagers will rethink their self-harming behavior," said Shino Tanikawa, a member of Community Education Council District and clearly a master of how teens think.

The fear expressed by proponents of a Tide Pod ban is that the product looks and smells dangerously like candy, thus leading children to consume them.

Yet the actual number of fatal poisonings resulting from children consuming these items is quite small. From 2012 to 2017, only two children died from consuming liquid detergent packs. That's compared to the 16 kids under the age of 6 who died from exposure to batteries between 2012 and 2016, according to the National Poison Control Center. Batteries, you may have noted, do not resemble candy.

The text of Hoylman and Simotas' bill does its best to hype this danger nonetheless, informing us that "from 2013–2015, there were over 49,000 reported cases of young children ingesting or inhaling the contents of liquid detergent pods." The American Association of Poison Control Centers puts this number lower, counting 34,479 children under 6 being exposed to liquid detergent packages.

These numbers include all manner of exposures, including kids who merely get it on their skin. The fact that almost no children are dying from these exposures suggests that most are manageable medical incidents.

And would the bill really cut down on those exposures? Proctor and Gamble—the makers of Tide Pods—sells less flashy all-white detergent packs, and it says its already makes the packages child-resistant. The company has also already launched a safety initiative in response to the reputed plague of people consuming its products.

But if the legislation won't cut back on dangerous behavior, it certainly is bringing more publicity to Hoylman and Simotas. So in one sense at least, the bill is already doing the job its authors wanted it to do.

Photo Credit: Kris Tripplaar/Sipa USA/Newscom

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  • ||

    I only come to Reason to skip through the articles and enjoy the comment... tide ad.

  • cgr2727||

    I see what you did there, police chief from Stranger Things.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    That Persil marketing department is looking for new jobs this week...

  • mtrueman||

    It's shoddy Reason journalism. The author writes:

    "So in one sense at least, the bill is already doing the job its authors wanted it to do."

    without even attempting to interview the legislators. She also calls P%G's customers a plague.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I'm sorry, but at this late date in human experience, I think it's fair to assume that if a politician is backing a bill which will have no net effect on the 'problem' it is intended to address, the bill was written to attract attention o the politician.

  • mtrueman||

    "I think it's fair to assume that if a politician is backing a bill which will have no net effect on the 'problem' it is intended to address, the bill was written to attract attention o the politician."

    Why assume? The author presumably has a telephone and knows how to use it. Journalists have been doing interviews with politicians for a long time, even those whose mind reading skills are on a par with Christian's.

  • Paper Wasp||

    without even attempting to interview the legislators

    Quotes from the legislators' press release are included in the article. That's why they put out a press release.

    She also calls P%G's [sic] customers a plague.

    The author is a male. He does no such thing, as if there would be anything wrong with it if he had. "Plague" is used here to mean "epidemic." Which would be clear to any 9-year-old who'd ever picked up a book before.

  • mtrueman||

    It's lazy and shoddy journalism. Good journalism gives both sides an opportunity to state their case. Bad journalism relies on mind reading.

  • Longtobefree||

    So batteries are next on the 'things I want to ban just because I can" list?

  • cgr2727||

    Surprised Philly doesn't ban battery sales from all stores within a 10-block radius of any sports venue.

  • Curt||

    "But if the legislation won't cut back on dangerous behavior, it certainly is bringing more publicity to Hoylman and Simotas. So in one sense at least, the bill is already doing the job its authors wanted it to do."

    Then again, I'd bet that the number of hits on Tide Challenge YT videos jumped through the roof after this became a thing for adults and politicians to get hysterical about. And, if I know one thing about the internet, it's that increasing the number of hits on a YT video is sure to discourage the behavior and the number of copycats.

  • ||

    "As the parent of two young kids, I'm very concerned about the safety of liquid detergent packets," [Sen. Brad] Hoylman said in a press release.

    Hoylman went on to add, "I'm not so much concerned that my kids would do something so stupid as to eat soap. I've got smart kids. It's everyone else's kids that are the problem."

  • Leader Desslok||

    That's the money shot right there. His progness shows right through but he completely lacks any self awareness of it.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Money shot was my nickname at the laundromat...

  • Leader Desslok||

    I sometimes had to use the laundromat due to money shots.

  • some guy||

    Sen. Holyman is obviously not fit to be a parent if he's worried about his ability to keep detergent out of his kids' mouths. Someone call CPS.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    He's not.

    He says his kids are smart but everyone else's are not.

  • Paloma||

    Awesome, Hoylman, nothing gets by YOUR kids, does it. Got a real dynasty going there.

  • patskelley||

    It is the equivalent of a "tail-light" law, to be used whenever the whim permits and for other "dangerously deemed" products, you know, like donuts, butter, sugar, eggs, bacon, soda pops...

  • Doug Heffernan||

    Are dishwashing detergent pods also included? They have taken over 70% of the consumer market.

    Finish Quantum Max dishwashing detergent pods look delicious to me. They have a cool cherry-looking candy center. And machine dishwashing by nature is nearly an entirely corrosive process.

    Although the liquids look yummy too. Would make a cool smoothie.

  • ||

    Finish Quantum Max dishwashing detergent pods look delicious to me. They have a cool cherry-looking candy center.

    The whole thing looks like it's made of hard-pressed powder too, like a smartie or sweeTart.

  • Doug Heffernan||

    You really should look into Finish All in 1 Gelpacs Orange if you are into a fruity experience.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    I'm a lemon guy, myself.

  • jelabarre||

    "lemon" in a fan-fiction sense?

  • Tony||

    My taste includes lemons... and oranges.

  • Paper Wasp||

    More of a Cascade Complete guy myself. Something about that icy-peppermint blue, it just looks like it would make your colon so fresh and spot-free.

  • tgrondo||

    Stop're making me hungry!!!!

    Reminds of a great meal mom use to fix for us kids....Tide Pod and Cascade Complete souffle, covered in liquid shoe polish gravy.....with a side of Lava bar soap.....Yum, Yum!!!!

    Mom would always wait till late evening to make us that meal, then she'd say, "Ok kids, go play on the sure and wear black"!!!!

  • Billy Bones||

    My god people, I was forced to eat soap by my mother almost as a daily afternoon snack I was so foul-mouthed as a child, and I have made it to 50yo. And contrary to "A Christmas Story", it didn't make me blind, either.

  • Radioactive||

    she just did it until you needed glasses?

  • p3orion||

  • Trainer||

    There is a huge difference between soap and detergents and Tide pods are very, very concentrated detergent.

  • Paper Wasp||

    Thanks professor. So the recommendation here -- just so we're clear -- is...don't eat the pods?

  • gormadoc||

    Detergent has more components than just surfactants, the primary ingredient in soap. One such ingredient is bleach and I doubt your mother had you drink bleach as a child.

  • Don't look at me.||

    Wel, not a lot of it anyway.

  • Robert||

    That's because it wasn't Lifebuoy. That's the brand Shep alleged did that.

  • Robert||

    Also that GI soap contaminating soup would cause diarrhea. I'm sure he's right about that, as it would be about any soap.

  • Detroit Linguist||

    Although I agree with everyone here that this is the usual level of stupid, I was shocked to find that the so-called 'moral panic' is actually real. I'm taking a standard undergraduate class at Wayne State (to further my amateur acting career at the ripe age of nearly 70) and walked in on the other students (average age 20 or so) talking about how they had done this themselves on various occasions. When I tried being the mean daddy they told me 'everything is dangerous' and put me in my place. Ah well, youth...

  • tgrondo||

    About once or twice a month we use temps for day's usually a mix of college and non-college kids...oddly enough, the college kids tend to say and do the dumbest stuff....and the non-college kids seem to be more level headed...

    The, "everything is dangerous" comment doesn't surprise me at all...Of course, the hardest part is keeping the college and non-college kids off their phones!

  • Billy Bones||

    This is not your parents' laundry soap. The laundry soap your parents were eating in the '60's is no where as potent as today's laundry soap.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    My parents ate raw lye and liked it!

  • strat||

    Are they Norwegian? The only uses of which I know for lye in food are lutefisk and making green olives actually edible.

  • Rhywun||

    I learned it from you, Dad!

  • Trainer||

    It's not even soap at all. It's detergent.

  • Don't look at me.||

    So, it's like better, right?

  • Trainer||

    For clothes, yes. For stupid teenagers, not so much.

  • Conchfritters||

    I love the cherry flavored one

  • Paper Wasp||

    You're right, we definitely need individual child-proof locks on each pod, then.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Then again, they are representing NYC. They undoubtably have good reason to believe their constituents are too stupid to betrusyef to not eat detergent. After all, those people were stupid enough to vote for them.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I wouldn't bet on that.

  • μ Aggressor||

    The infinite resource

  • silver.||

    If only it could power turbines. The energy crisis would be over.

  • Rockabilly||

    Oh, if only Hillary was president they'd be a nation wide War on Tide Pods !!

    The Trump, he won't do this.

    Must seek legislative action !!!

    Alert Nancy Pelosi !!!

  • Rhywun||

    Her regeneration cycle isn't complete yet.

  • lap83||

    I have a small child and I've stopped buying those detergent pods, even though I don't even keep the detergent within his reach. Amazingly I've done all of that without government intervention.

  • Paloma||

    I don't buy Tide pods because they are ridiculously overpriced. But raised two daughters who I didn't even realize must have been geniuses because they never tried to eat dishwasher pods, preferring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

  • Trainer||

    Overpriced but, oh, so awesome. They save a total of 3 seconds work per wash but it's worth it.

  • tgrondo||

    I don't know why people waste money on those Tide Pods....cause the Walmart brand of detergent pod are much cheaper and taste a Lot better!

  • Radioactive||

    isn't there an historical quote "...let them eat French Milled Castellian soap"?

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    You can't have your soap and eat it too

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Children dumb enough to eat soap should be allowed to cull themselves from the population.

  • esteve7||

    Is there a problem that isn't made worse by statist assholes?

  • tgrondo||


  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Soap, we need to ban, but margarine, that's fine for consumption...

  • NoVaNick||

    Who is dumber-kids who eat Tide packets or NY politicians? especially those with a D after their name.
    Though my parents never did it, I knew of kids who were made to eat/drink soap if they cursed-surprised these proggies haven't criminalized that.

  • Raoul Duke||

    So, looks like New York wants to play hardball. I'm gonna eat 2 Tide pods for breakfast each day, washed down with an ice-cold 84oz Diet Mountain Dew just to spite The Man. See what you get when you try to hold me down?

  • Don't look at me.||

    Diet soda? Candy ass.

  • Raoul Duke||

    Dude, trying to count calories here.

  • Pat001||

    We have become a ban-happy society.

  • Agammamon||

    The fear expressed by proponents of a Tide Pod ban is that the product looks and smells dangerously like candy, thus leading children to consume them.

    These people do not do their own laundry and have never actually seen a detergent pod before.

  • Agammamon||

    They've also never met any children - or teenagers. Because its not children 'consuming them', its teenager being teenagers. If it looks and smells like dogshit, that will just encourage *more* of this idiocy.

  • p3orion||

    It's not confused children, it's faddish adolescents. The ones who want to eat Tide pods like this should be encouraged to do so; as teenagers, there's not much time left to remove them from the gene pool.

  • Paper Wasp||

    I grew up in the age of Ex-Lax and mom's Ayds diet candy. Now there's some shit that looks (and tastes) like candy. Curious how no politicians harrumphed around trying to ban it. I guess people were more into doing their own parenting back in the '70s, rather than outsourcing it to the damned state.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Yeah, but politicians (and parents) were more often drunk back then.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    New York Legislators Unveil Legislation Banning Tide Pods and in so doing, beclown themselves before their constituents and Reason readers everywhere.

  • flyfishnevada||

    Typical politician: Hey, this is getting press even though it's been going on for years. We better pass some legislation so folks thing we're doing something. I mean, won't somebody think of the children?

  • TGoodchild||

    Persil pods with a side of Wisk, Era drizzle and Fab compote. Garçon!

  • tgrondo||

    Ahhh....excellent choice Monsieur.....may I suggest a lovely Liquid Drano?

  • Pat001||

    I doubt companies like Procter & Gamble started selling detergent in pods because people sent in cards and letters saying, "We want our detergent in pods!"

    I just assumed pods was a sneaky way to charge me more or else force me to use more detergent than I need when I want to wash only one or two items instead of a full load.


  • Earth Skeptic||

    Wait, does Satan still own P&G?

  • jmlandry||

    "uniform color that is "unattractive to children." This reminds me of Minneapolis' tobacco ban of flavored tobacco products. The line goes something like cherry and candy flavored tobacco attracts and entices children, leading them into a life of tobacco addiction.

    Hmm... As a 50 year old man, I too enjoy cherry flavored candy, cherry coke etc. To imply that cherry flavored products are designed or are attractive to children only is absurd.

  • Tony||

    Seems like out of date advice anyway what with parents feeding their kids tree bark and stuff these days.

  • Thrackmoor||

    Mmmm... tree bark. Or quinoa, whatever.

  • macsnafu||

    But who will save us from grandstanding politicians? Will they take the Pod Challenge?

  • CGN||

    How much you want to be the pod banning morons are 100% pro-abortion, which, instead of having to be proven to kill kids, has that as its OBJECTIVE!!!!

  • Tony||

    From my cold, dead hands.

  • Thrackmoor||

    They'll all be individually registered...

  • tgrondo||

    From my cold, dead....but clean...hands!

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I hereby propose legislation providing that if it can be proven (criteria to be determined during legislative debate) that a bill predictably had no measurable effect on the 'problem' it propertied to address, the bill's sponsors shall be coated in a light layer of warm tar and rolled in feathers.

    We could call it "Hoylman and Simotas's Law"

  • TxJack 112||

    The reason for the problem is social media. Kids do stupid crap to be internet sensations. This is a good example. Children also lack the cognitive maturity to think about the actual consequences of their actions. However that is not a reason for the government to step in and play nanny, but it is NY so not surprised.

  • Leader Desslok||

    Kids do stupid crap, also called chlorine in the gene pool.

  • yawbus||

    "As the parent of two young kids, I'm very concerned about the safety of liquid detergent packets," Hoylman said in a press release." I have an idea. Take some personal responsibility. If you think they are too dangerous to have in your house, don't buy them, genius.

  • tgrondo||

    What the Tide Pod challenge really needs is a.....Song! I've been working on one.... what do you think?

    The Tide Pod Challenge

    I took the Tide Pod challenge...on a dare.......Na... Na... Na... Na....

    Then the doctor looked for my wasn't there......Na... Na... Na... Na...

    I ate a Tide pod.....Yeah, Yeah....That's right.....Na...Na...Na...Na...Naaa......

    I may be pretty dumb....but my turds are bright!!!!

    The band and I will be on tour this summer.....(mostly laundromats, of course)

  • Widhalm19||

    I say give Tide Pods away free to Leftist urban centers. It's a wonderful solution to eliminating their political idiocy.

  • patskelley||

    It's a silly topic, and we all can agree teens should not taste Tide pods, eat soap, drink bleach, etc, but it is not about Tide Pods and stupid teenagers. My crystal balls tell me the next next stop, "In Sweeping War on Obesity, Chile Slays Tony the Tiger"

  • Pat001||

    The rush to ban Tide pods recalls the 1980s when Glock polymer pistols were new to the market and wrongly believed to be undetectable by airport scanners. Glock pistols contained enough metal to be readily detectable but that didn't stop Congress from passing the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988, and reinstating it again in 2003, thus solving a problem that never existed.


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