Laundry Detergent Sold With Misleading Warnings

Joseph O'Neill

Written by
— Updated on December 20, 2017

Warnings Expert WitnessThis case takes place in Illinois and involves single use detergent pods. The pods in question are brightly colored and packaged in a way that resembles an edible item. Additionally, The liquid in the pods is under so much pressure that when bitten it is almost impossible for a child not to swallow the toxic contents. Instructions on the packaging recommend consuming fluids post ingestion, however, children who have consumed the pods developed a host of complications as a result of following these instructions.  The warning label regarding accidental ingestion customers to drink water after accidental ingestion. The label does not warn customers that ingestion by a child is an emergency which could easily be fatal. Moreover, this instruction is particularly dangerous because drinking water will only exacerbate the ingestion of the chemicals, thereby worsening the injuries sustained.

 

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please explain why you're qualified to assess the safety / adequacy of the warnings and labeling utilized in this product.
  • 2. Have you ever created warnings / labeling for similar products? If so, what additional safety measures must be considered?

Expert Witness Response E-028932

I have a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering with a focus on Human Factors, and I have designed and evaluated warnings in a variety of domains. I have evaluated warnings for products which involve hazardous substances and know that there are federal requirements for the labeling of hazardous substances that must be followed. To be effective, it is necessary that a warning be read, understood, and complied with, and also that compliance with the information provided in the warning reduces the likelihood and/or severity of harm. Upon review of the case overview, only, it appears that the instructions provided regarding what to do if the product is ingested provided information that failed to reduce the likelihood / severity of harm and, possibly, increased the likelihood / severity of harm.

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