YouTube is cracking down on a dangerous – and surreal – new online craze, the ‘Tide Pod Challenge’, where teenagers eat washing machine capsules live on camera.
‘Tide Pods’ are brightly coloured American detergent capsules, similar to brands available in the UK, and YouTubers have been posting videos of themselves eating the capsules – and in some cases foaming at the mouth.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers says that poison control centres received 39 calls relating to detergent capsules so far this year – the same as in the whole of 2016.
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Stephen Kaminski of the American Association of Poison Control Centers says, ‘We have seen a large spike in single-load laundry packet exposures among teenagers since these videos have been uploaded.’
The capsules contain powerful detergents which can be harmful, and rapidly dissolve in the mouth.
Children have previously been hospitalised with breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness and chemical burns to the eye, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers says ingredients in the pods could cause seizures, fluid in the lungs, coma or death.
If ingested, Tide advises consumers to drink a glass of milk and water and seek immediate medical attention.
Procter & Gamble, makers of Tide said in a statement, ‘Nothing is more important to us than the safety of people who use our products. We are deeply concerned about conversations related to intentional and improper use of liquid laundry pacs and have been working with leading social media networks to remove harmful content that is not consistent with their policies.