A new Internet meme has resulted in more than 40 teens in America biting down on liquid detergent pods as part of a challenge.
The “Tide pod challenge” saw teens biting into brightly coloured liquid laundry detergent packets from Tide or cooking them in frying pans and chewing them up before spewing soap from their mouths.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there have been 40 cases of “reported exposures to liquid laundry detergent pods by 13- to 19-year olds” in just the first 11 days of 2018. This is 20 per cent of the total number of similar incidents in all of 2017.
“They're serious enough to cause possible diarrhoea and vomiting, and they're in such a high concentration they could be deadly,” said David Johnson with the Washington State Department of Health, cited by Washington-based news station KXLY.
Tide has even waded into the conversation, enlisting American footballer Rob Gronkowski in an ad telling people not to eat them.
Mention of eating Tide pods appeared as early as 2015, when satirical website The Onion published a column comparing them to candy. Then in March 2017, a video by College Humor titled Don’t Eat the Laundry Pods brought it back to the surface, featuring college students who were tempted to eat the pods. As of Jan 16, the video has more than three million views.
A counter-meme saw people photoshop the laundry detergent into pictures rather than actually eat them.