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Products that resemble foods and appeal to children

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Some consumer products on the European market are packaged to imitate food or appeal to children. This is for instance the case of certain shower gels, shampoos, body lotions, soaps, liquid soaps and …

Some consumer products on the European market are packaged to imitate food or appeal to children. This is for instance the case of certain shower gels, shampoos, body lotions, soaps, liquid soaps and dish-washing liquids.

It is reasonable to expect that the closer a product resembles food and the more attractive it is to children, the more likely it is to be confused with food and swallowed.

Who runs the greatest risk and what properties and circumstances might increase the likelihood of serious poisoning?

Published in: Education

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  • 1. Products that resemble foods and appeal to children Potential risks of accidental ingestion 1 How common and serious may drink from any open container within Some consumer products - are poisonings? their reach, particularly if the smell is namely cosmetics, personal care and nice. Many poisoning cases are related The safety measures introduced in the last to corrosive solutions that are stored in household products - are presented 30 years have brought down the number of unlabelled containers and unknowingly to consumers in ways that make poisonings from household products and, given to children. them imitate food or appeal to today, serious cases are very unusual. Two children. This is for instance the case When elderly people have reduced sight and of the most successful safety measures are of certain shower gels, shampoos, senses of taste and smell, they cannot easily the use of child resistant packaging and body lotions, soaps, liquid soaps and distinguish edible products from others, the substitution of harmful substances by dishwashing liquids. particularly if they are disoriented because other, less toxic ones. Education campaigns of illness or medication. It is reasonable to expect that the closer and laws to prevent storage of poisonous a product resembles food and the more substances in food containers have also been attractive it is to children, the more effective. likely it is to be confused with food and At present, only few people who happen to swallowed? swallow cosmetics and household products 1 ubstances S seek medical help. And among the reported with harmful effects cases, few show serious symptoms. In1 hat makes some products more W general, there is little risk of serious health Household products frequently involved likely to be mistaken for food? problems when personal care products are in accidental poisonings are detergents, swallowed, and higher risk with household cleaners and bleaches.Visually, some products are especially made cleaning products, because of the more Their most harmful ingredients areto look like a fruit or drink, or simply have aggressive ingredients. corrosive substances, such as acids andsimilar colours as food products. Others The most common reported symptoms bases present in bleach or oven and draindisplay pictures of food items or names and are gastrointestinal (vomiting, abdominal cleaners, which can cause severe burns inwritten descriptions imitating real foods. pain) or neurological (drowsiness, impaired the oesophagus or the stomach.If such products are sold or stored near consciousness, low muscle tone, seizures, Other potentially harmful ingredientsreal foodstuffs they can more readily be and problems with movement, balance or include:mistaken for such. speech, seizure). • Surfactants (e.g.Pleasant fruity smells and tastes of non- added to detergents and soaps tofood products can also cause confusion. Who runs the greatest risk? remove dirt and stains),Young children tend to be drawn to • lcohols and glycols (e.g. used in A Children under the age of 3 and theanything within their reach, but particularly anti-freeze and windscreenwash), elderly are particularly prone to accidentalby products with colourful patterns, baring poisoning. • ssential oils (e.g. pine oil, Ea familiar character, or that smell nice. wintergreen oil and camphor).Warning labels have no effect on them since The risk of accidents may be greater whenthey cannot read and a skull symbol may children are not closely supervised or wheneven make a product more attractive to the adults looking after them are distractedthem. by other activities such as cooking. Children This fact sheet is based on the scientific opinion “Opinion on the potential health risks posed by chemical consumer products resembling food and/or having child-appealing properties”, an opinion adopted on 22 March 2011 by the independent European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety. The detailed and nuanced view of the European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety on this issue is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/consumer_safety/docs/sccs_o_056.pdf