Internet meme has teens eating laundry detergent pods

They're small, colourful and glossy.

Despite their resemblance to candy, Tide's laundry packs are definitely not for eating.

Now, teens are posting videos of themselves biting into the detergent packets on social media.

What started out as a meme joking about an urge to eat Tide pods has sparked an online challenge that is putting the lives of many impressionable youths at risk.

Photos and video clips tagged with 'Tide Pod Challenge' show teens chewing the packets and then spitting the liquid detergent out of their mouths.

In others, they're seen "cooking" the pods over the stove or using them as pizza toppings.

But medical experts do not find these jokes funny.

Following reports of this social media trend, they have stepped out to warn the public about the dangers of such acts.

These laundry packs contain highly concentrated detergent which can harm the human body when ingested.

Even if a person spits out the liquid, it is still capable of causing diarrhoea and vomiting. And the detergent can cause irritation if it comes into contact with the eyes or skin.

Since the introduction of laundry detergent pods into the United States in 2010, poison control centres in the country have noted an increase in the number of cases for detergent ingestion.

Many cases involved young children who had mistaken the packets for candy and some of them had to be hospitalised for drowsiness and breathing difficulties.

While most patients were discharged after receiving emergency treatment, there were two children and six adults who died after ingesting the pods, according to the US consumer product safety commission.

These incidents led Tide to redesign the packaging to keep the pods out of children's reach and also give instructions on how to use the product safely.

In a statement, Tide said: "Our laundry packs 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."