However one interprets the statistics, one thing is undisputed: The industry didn’t alter its approach to color. Tide has changed its signature color scheme to white, blue, and green from orange, blue, and white, but P&G says that change was not safety related. Indeed, the multihued whorls that critics see as so candy-like are still the norm in the laundry-pod world.
P&G has long argued that research shows the appearance of packets doesn’t play a role in exposures. Asked to describe that research in greater detail, P&G cites two studies conducted by the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center—both relying on the data that the organization began collecting at P&G’s behest when Tide Pods launched.
On closer inspection, those studies don’t resolve the question. P&G provided Fortune with a copy of the first study and sent excerpts from the second, which has not been published. The unpublished study found that when examining pods based on color (single vs. colorless) and design (single-chamber vs. multichamber), the ratios of exposures roughly matched the ratios of market share—so, for example, multichamber pods made up about 70% of exposures and 70% of market share. The other found that colorless and single-color packets caused roughly the same number of exposures for children under 6 when controlled for market size.