Detergent capsules to get bitter flavour to stop poisonings

More than 900 children treated in Ireland over last five years after eating the capsules


Liquid detergent capsules will get a new bitter flavour as part of an effort to stop children eating the dangerous chemicals inside.

More than 900 children that have had incidents involving the capsules were reported to the National Poisons Information Centre at Beaumont Hospital over the last five years.

Most of the cases have involved children under three-years-old.

The laundry capsules contain concentrated cleaning chemicals that could cause severe vomiting and breathing difficulties if swallowed.

If the dangerous chemicals get into the eye, it could be extremely painful and distressing and can cause severe eye damage.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) began a campaign on Monday focused on retailers and distributors of the “liquitabs” and enforce the new safety regulations.

Yvonne Mullooly, a senior inspector with the HSA, said capsules were small, colourful, squishy and could be mistaken for sweets or toys by young children.

“Changes to the labelling and packaging regulations were introduced to make it more difficult for children to see and access the product and prevent accidental exposure,” she said.

“We are now asking all retailers and distributors to check their existing stock to make sure what they have on their shelves is compliant as all non-compliant stock should be removed.”

Ms Mullooly said since January this year the EU safety measures came into full effect in Ireland.

New safety measures include making the outer packing opaque so children cannot see the liquitabs and the soluble capsule must contain a agent to make it bitter to deter children from putting the capsule into their mouth.

In the case of accidental exposure:

*If the liquid gets into the eyes it is recommended to rinse the eye carefully with water for 10 to 15 minutes

*If the liquid is put in the mouth and the liquid is swallowed, rinse as much of the liquid out as possible with water and do not induce vomiting;

*If the liquid comes in contact with hands they should be washed thoroughly with water

*In any event call a doctor, the Poison Centre (01) 809 2166 or go to your nearest medical emergency department