The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International has approved the first packaging and labeling safety standards for laundry detergent pods.
Over the past year, a group of industry representatives, consumers, medical groups and officials from the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission have been negotiating the safety recommendations.
According to American Association of Poison Control Centers, 11,862 children under the age of six ingested or inhaled the contents of laundry pods in 2014. This July, Consumer Reports stopped recommending the pods “until the adoption of tougher safety measures leads to a meaningful drop in injuries.” Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement urging companies to make laundry pod packaging less accessible and appealing to children.
The new ASTM-approved standards include adding a bitter taste to the pod’s outer film and making the film take longer to dissolve. ASTM recommends opaque containers so that the individual pods cannot be seen, as they often resemble candy. The standards also recommend child-resistant containers that require a higher amount of strength or dexterity to open.
The standards do not suggest making the products less toxic, nor do they request less colorful pods. The new packaging and labeling guidelines are not mandatory, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission may pursue recalls of pods that fail to meet them. ASTM said that if poisonings remain frequent, the group will discuss whether detergents should be made less toxic.