Back in February of last year, football star Rob Gronkowski starred in a Tide commercial as a dry cleaner who rips stains out of a customer’s shirt.
Now, the member of the NFL’s New England Patriots has made an ad urging people not to eat Procter & Gamble‘s Tide Pods. The commercial is being shown on the laundry brand’s Twitter and Facebook pages.
What should Tide PODs be used for? DOING LAUNDRY. Nothing else.
— Tide (@tide) January 12, 2018
Some teenagers have been making videos showing themselves eating the brightly colored laundry packets in what has become known as the “Tide pod challenge.”
The challenge first appeared around 2015, and videos of teens eating detergent packets are now doing the rounds on social media, according to a USA Today report.
Now the American Association of Poison Control Centers has warned that the trend is already a significant concern in 2018.
The AAPCC reported 39 cases of teenagers aged 13 to 19 eating laundry pods deliberately in the first 15 days of 2018 alone, equivalent to the number of cases it dealt with in the whole of 2016. In 2017, it handled 53 cases. The AAPCC does not name Tide specifically, instead of warning about “potential poison exposure to single-load laundry packets.”
“The ‘laundry packet challenge’ is neither funny nor without serious health implications,” said Stephen Kaminski, AAPCC’s chief executive and executive director, in an online statement. “The intentional misuse of these products poses a real threat to the health of individuals. We have seen a large spike in single-load laundry packet exposures among teenagers since these videos have been uploaded.”
A spokesperson from Procter & Gamble said it was working with social networks to remove harmful content, as well as the American Cleaning Institute to provide information to college students. “Nothing is more important to us than the safety of people who use our products. We are deeply concerned about the intentional and improper use of liquid laundry packs by young people engaging in intentional self-harm challenges,” the company said in an emailed statement.
Tide led the liquid laundry detergent market in the U.S in 2017, with more than $1 billion in sales, according to figures from the Statista website.