Doctors have issued a warning after a new challenge in which people record themselves eating laundry detergent pods quickly became popular on social media.
According to WGHP, a new social media challenge has many teens eating Tide laundry pods after a meme compared the cleaning product to food.
"I think it's kind of foolish because number one, I think most of the problem comes from the coating itself," said Dr. Joe Krug of St. Vincent Health. "If you look at data for liquid soap ingestion, just liquid soap ingestion by itself doesn't cause too many problems.
A quick search on YouTube turns up a number of videos showing people gagging after eating the pods.
"So you'll get burns to the skin, burns to the eye, a lot of problems that are more severe burns to the respiratory tract, burns to the esophagus," Krug added.
After the challenge began spreading on social media, Tide's parent company, Procter & Gamble, issued a statement regarding the trend.
"Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes and they're used safely in millions of households every day," the company's statement read. "They should be only used to clean clothes and kept up, closed and away from children. They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if it is meant as a joke."
According to USA Today, swallowing even a small amount of the concentrated detergent found in Tide's pods can cause vomiting and diarrhea. The detergent could also potentially make its way into the lungs and cause breathing difficulties.
Doctors warned that those who may have underlying medical conditions of which they are unaware could have serious reactions if attempting to eat a laundry pod, which could put some in the hospital.
"Ending up in the emergency room is no joke," said Dr. Alfred Aleguas Jr., the managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center.
Tide's website includes a page dedicated to information on the safe handling of its products. Consumers who may swallow one of Tide's products should drink a glass of water or milk and call the national poison help hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
USA Today readers shared their thoughts on the trend.
"As a parent, I'm sure I'd be heartbroken if my child did this," one reader commented. "I'd also start to question the fact that I had procreated. Clearly these idiots are too stupid to understand how toxic these are. Bright colors and pretty lights tend to be distracting. If any of them survive, I'd keep them away from railroad crossings."
"The company needs to short-circuit this immediately," another user wrote. "I thought the detergent makers were [voluntarily] taking action to ensure children don't accidentally mistake the capsules for candy. What happened to that?"