07/12/2012 07:06 EDT | Updated 09/11/2012 05:12 EDT

Candy-Coloured Detergent Packs A Hazard To Kids

Health Canada has issued an advisory warning parents about the dangers of children eating brightly coloured miniature laundry detergent packets, which they mistake for candy.

“Children who swallow the detergent packs may experience a variety of serious symptoms including severe abdominal pain, vomiting, or breathing difficulty,” said the advisory posted on Health Canada’s website.

The Health Department is working with the Canadian Association of Poison Control Centres to gather data on such incidents in Canada.

In the United States, nearly 250 cases have been reported to poison control centres since March when several companies began to market the packets. No deaths have been reported, but a handful of children have been hospitalized for several days.

There is no national data yet on similar cases in Canada.

In May, Procter & Gamble said it planned to create a new double-latch lid on tubs of Tide Pods to deter children. The Cincinnati-based company also said it continues to study the design of the package.

Health Canada is advising consumers to store the packets in a locked cabinet or drawer out of the reach of children. If a child does ingest the detergent, parents are advised to call their local poison control centre or 911.