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这款洗衣神器竟然能杀人,该怎么破?

Jake Meth 2019年03月01日

彩色的洗衣凝珠成了宝洁旗下的畅销品之一。问题是,太多孩子因此中毒了。

颜色战争:消费者代言人称,彩色的凝珠特别容易被误认为糖果。汰渍洗衣凝珠采用三色设计。图片来源:Photograph by Dan Saelinger for Fortune; Styling by Dominique Baynes

宝洁公司表示,两项研究有信心提供足够的证据证明,外观并不是凝珠导致伤害的因素。纽约大学医学院医学伦理学部的创始负责人阿瑟·卡普兰并不同意。卡普兰说,制造商必须“利用最先进的科学”提升产品的安全性,像宝洁一样仅依赖数据集合是不够的。凯普兰认为,宝洁还应该检查“其他具有同样问题的产品数据”。

健康专家说,为了证明或反驳相关联系,宝洁要研究凝珠的气味、手感和外观,包括汰渍凝珠彩色漩涡状设计对脆弱人群的吸引力。举例来说,“应该做个随机对照试验,改变凝珠的设计,然后观察反应。”如此一来才能确定哪些因素会吸引幼儿,儿童心理学家布鲁索尼说。“但在我看来,有什么必要测试呢?本来就是成年人洗衣服用的,设计得花花绿绿做什么?”

目前,各家制造商都没有计划做相关研究。琼斯对布鲁索尼描述研究的前提提出了质疑。宝洁公司的琼斯说:“我们不会把两个凝珠放在孩子面前,然后说‘抓一个’,这不是现实生活中会遇到的情况。”宝洁与《财富》杂志对话时强调,加强包装的安全性并教育监护人安全使用凝珠,才是最重要的安全措施,而不是改变凝珠的设计。旗下有宝莹和All洗衣品牌的德国汉高拒绝讨论可能采取的安全改进,但表示行为符合当前的自愿标准。Church&Dwight旗下品牌包括OxiClean和Arm&Hammer,并未回应《财富》杂志的置评请求。

2012年至2017年间,文森特·威尔在宝洁开发汰渍凝珠过程中主导设计创新,目前在一家非竞争对手公司工作。他告诉《财富》杂志,自己曾经参与提升凝珠安全性的项目,他离开公司后也一直在持续,其中包括研究洗衣液新配方以降低毒性,加强包装使之更难破裂或泄漏等等。

宝洁拒绝就威尔描述的项目或其他可能的变化发表评论。琼斯则表示,宝洁一直在努力提升凝珠的安全性,是“持续的过程”。

P&G says it’s confident that these two studies offer sufficient evidence that appearance isn’t a factor in pod-related injuries. Arthur Caplan, founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine, disagrees. Caplan says that manufacturers have to “use the best science” to make their products safer, and that relying on one data set, as P&G appears to have done, is not a sufficient approach. The company, Caplan says, should also examine “data from other products that bears on this question.”

To prove or disprove a connection, health professionals say, P&G would need to study how pods’ smell, feel, and appearance—including Tide Pods’ multicolored swirls—appealed to vulnerable populations. For example, “you would need to do a randomized controlled trial, varying pod designs and monitoring reactions to them” to know for sure which factors attract young kids, says Brussoni, the child psychologist. “But to my mind, why bother? Why have these colors anyway for a product for an adult that’s doing laundry?”

For now, such research doesn’t appear to be in the cards—for any manufacturer. Jones disputes the premise of studies like those described by Brussoni. “We don’t put two different pods in front of a kid,” P&G’s Jones says, “and say, ‘Grab one.’ It’s not a real-life situation.” Rather than changing the pod design, P&G has stressed in its conversations with Fortune that making packaging more secure and educating caregivers about safe use are the most important measures it can take to improve safety. Henkel, whose laundry detergent brands include Persil and All, declined to discuss possible safety improvements but said it was compliant with the current voluntary standard. Church & Dwight, whose brands include OxiClean and Arm & Hammer, did not respond to Fortune’s requests for comment.

Vincent Weill, who led P&G’s efforts to incorporate design innovations into the Tide Pods product between 2012 and 2017, and who now works at a company that is not a competitor, tells Fortune that he was involved with projects to make pods safer that have continued since he left the company. Among them were reformulating the liquid to be less toxic and strengthening the packets to be more resistant to bursting or leaking.

P&G declined to comment on the projects described by Weill or any other specific possible changes. Jones describes the company’s effort to make pods safer as an “ongoing journey” of continual improvements.

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