By Jessica Wohl
(Reuters) - After at least one child was hospitalized for swallowing its prettily packaged detergent, Procter & Gamble Co said on Friday it will make Tide Pods more difficult to open.
A double latch will be put on the lid of Tide Pods tubs and should be in markets in the next couple of weeks, P&G spokesman Paul Fox said on Friday.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) issued a warning last week that people should keep highly concentrated, single-dose packs of detergent high up and out of the reach of children.
According to the AAPCC, some young children who swallowed the small packets required hospitalization, while others got the detergent in their eyes.
"Laundry packs, like any cleaning product, must be kept out of the reach of children," P&G's Fox said.
The AAPCC said that poison control centers have been receiving more calls about children exposed to single-dose laundry detergent packets.
As of Thursday night, 317 cases have been reported to U.S. poison centers, AAPCC spokeswoman Loreeta Canton said. That is just a small fraction of total number of calls poison centers receive. In 2009, for example, U.S. poison centers took more than 4.2 million calls, or one every eight seconds.
In one example, it said that a 15-month-old, who bit into a pack and swallowed a mouthful, vomited profusely, was brought to a hospital and put on a ventilator for airway protection.
P&G is aware of one incident involving Tide Pods in which a child needed medical treatment, Fox said.
Large packages of Tide Pods are clear containers, reminiscent of fish bowls, with orange lids. Tide Pods also come in resealable bags, which P&G will review as well.
The back of the Tide Pods packaging states, in all capital letters, "Keep out of reach of children. Do not ingest. May irritate eyes," in English, French and Spanish.
BEST SELLER IN GROWING U.S. CATEGORY
Tide Pods, a single-dose blue, orange and white capsule, is the best-selling, single-dose laundry detergent in the United States. The product, introduced this year, has about a 60 percent share of the new and growing unit-dose detergent category.
Other single-dose detergent brands include all mighty pacs, from Sun Products Corp, Arm & Hammer Power Paks from Church & Dwight Co Inc, and Purex UltraPacks from Henkel AG & Co.
Henkel spokeswoman Cindy Demers said the company learned of a few incidents of misuse of its product, which also carries a warning label urging people to keep the detergent out of reach of small children. "This is a new form of laundry product, and we will continue to join other manufacturers to safeguard and educate consumers on the correct storage and use of these products in the home," she said.
P&G's decision to change the packaging of Tide Pods comes after the product's debut was delayed, first because demand from retailers was so strong, and then because the company could not ramp up production at a plant quickly enough to meet demand.
P&G Chairman and Chief Executive Bob McDonald said earlier this year that Tide Pods would be the company's biggest innovation of 2012. It took P&G eight years of research, with 75 technical staff working on the project full-time, to come up with Tide Pods. More than 6,000 consumers were involved in testing what the company has called Tide's biggest innovation since Liquid Tide's 1984 launch.
Single-dose laundry detergent has been sold in Europe for years. Single-dose dishwasher detergents have also been sold in many markets, including the United States, for years.
(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago, additional reporting by Dhanya Skariachan in New York; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz, Matthew Lewis and Tim Dobbyn)