Might pressure from Consumer Reports change how ‘general purpose’ or ‘all-purpose’ cleaners are packaged?

No, they’re not energy drinks. They’re all-purpose cleaners that can be harmful if swallowed.

The problem is that such packaging may entice children to take a gulp. Furthermore, these cleaners do not have child-resistant caps, nor are they required to. And some labels lack crucial information, such as what to do in case of accidental ingestion or the phone number for poison control centers.

On store shelves, we found numerous such cleaners, such as Fabuloso by Colgate-Palmolive, Mistolin by Mistolin Caribe, and Festival by AlEn. Some store brand cleaners were similar in appearance.

The Poison Prevention Packaging Act requires child-resistant packaging if a product contains certain caustic or otherwise hazardous chemicals that these products apparently do not contain. Federal law also prohibits toxic formulations from being sold in packaging that looks like a food container. But a spokesperson for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission characterized such containers as “general purpose.” Since labels describe the products as cleaners, they comply with the law, the CPSC says.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers says that in 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available, cleaning products were involved in nearly 125,000 poisonings of children younger than 6. And about 30 children under age 5 still die each year from unintentional poisonings. Data for all-purpose cleaners like those noted above were not available by brand, though we are aware of two accidental ingestions involving Fabuloso and one involving Mistolin reported to the CPSC by hospital emergency rooms. None of the three resulted in a death.

We’ll be watching this story to see if it spurs the CPSC to change their regulations on these cleaners.

See the full report: ConsumerReports.org.