New EU rules on liquitabs aim to protect children from harm

3 Feb 2015

From 1 June, liquitab manufacturers will be required to adapt their product and packaging to help protect children from the concentrated detergent that liquitabs contain.

The move comes in response to a significant number of severe incidents of poisoning and eye damage involving young children across Europe. 

The new regulations mean that manufacturers will need to make three significant modifications to single use detergent capsules, known in the UK as liquitabs. They will need to ensure that:

  • The soluble coating of the liquitab contains an ‘aversive agent’ in a safe concentration which is repellent to children within six seconds. This could well be a bittering agent such as Bitrex®;  
  • The soluble coating is stronger and retains its liquid for a minimum of 30 seconds in water at 20 degrees Celsius; and
  • The product packaging displays warnings about the dangers.

Gina Mercier, Marketing Manager for Bitrex® at Macfarlan Smith said:

"We are delighted to see European Commission responding in such a positive manner adopting aversive agents like Bitrex® to increase the safety of liquid detergent capsules. Although nothing replaces safe storage and vigilance, ensuring that a product is so bitter a child would spit it if it got its hands on it provides peace of mind for parents.

"At Bitrex® we have been working closely with our industry partners and hope to see a reduction in the number of incidents involving capsules due to this European wide initiative."

Keep liquitabs out of reach

While the new EU rules are a significant step forward, manufacturers have until 31 December 2015 to comply with them. So it could be several months before safer products hit the shelves.

In the meantime, the best prevention advice is to keep liquitabs well out of reach and sight of babies and small children.

The detergent industry is collectively promoting safety and has launched a website ‘Keep caps from kids’ to promote the safe use of liquitabs. Check out the video showing how babies explore the world with their mouths.

Also, check out a fantastic 20-second film produced by P&G for Ariel which they’ve posted on Facebook

Both are a really good way to spread the ‘keep them out of reach’ message!

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