A Mom Is Speaking Out After Her Son Ate Hand Sanitizer In ‘Trolls’ Packaging

by Karen Belz
Karen Belz has written for sites such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, Romper, and So Yummy. She's the mom of a sassy toddler and drinks an alarming amount of Sugar-Free Red Bull in order to keep up with her.

Years ago, parents started worrying about Tide Pods. While the concept is great — and it’s a lot less messy than liquid detergent — the packaging might seem a little misleading.

Sure, maybe it was just internet folklore that stated teens were eating them as a dare. But it could definitely be mistaken for candy by a much younger crowd.

Unfortunately, it seems as if manufacturers still aren’t learning their lesson. Even though hand sanitizer has been part of everyone’s daily life for months, more companies have been making it to avoid a shortage. Even some breweries have switched over, just to help the nation get a better handle on the virus.

It’s possible that, based on the frenzy, certain safety precautions have been overlooked.

For example, one type of hand sanitizer created for children looks just like a standard applesauce pouch they may already eat for a snack. Even worse, it has characters from Trolls on it. If you grab it without reading it, you could end up with a trip to the emergency room. And since this is how many convenience food products are designed, the chances are high that you might serve it by mistake.

A grandmother in Canada did just that. Now her daughter is trying to get the word out. The more people who are aware of this Trolls packaging mishap, the better.

Nikki Teixeira, of Manitoba, Canada, let her mom take care of her 18-month-old son Logan at the time. Based on the look of the package, her mom accidentally gave Logan a hand sanitizer pack to eat instead of what she thought it was — a fruit puree. Many companies these days have made applesauce and purees in this form for portable, mess-free snacks.

Nikki also has a 7-year-old stepdaughter at home. She initially bought the Trolls hand sanitizer for her, thinking it was a fun design that would help make her return to school a little easier. With school back in session, hand sanitizer is one of the many new items that parents are equipping their kids with.

“I had been shopping with my husband… and they had these hand sanitizers in the middle aisle packaged in cute packages and I had a 7-year-old stepdaughter going back to school and I thought that’d be perfect for her backpack,” Nikki told Good Morning America. She said that based on its placement in the store, she didn’t even make the connection at first. “The way it was packaged and displayed with hand sanitizers, I didn’t even think of it looking like a food,” she continued.

Logan’s grandmother didn’t think twice when she saw that the sanitizer ended up in Logan’s care bag instead. She handed him a pouch, but was surprised by his reaction. It was a good thing that she was nearby when it all happened, because Logan immediately suffered from the small sip he took.

“He took a sip and immediately turned red and started coughing, so she grabbed it from him and then immediately saw it was hand sanitizer,” Nikki reported. “She called her neighbor and called 911 because he started to get a little bit dozy and out of it, and then five minutes later he was falling asleep.” Based on the fact that he consumed alcohol, there was plenty of reason to panic.

The good news is that Logan regained alertness by the time the paramedics arrived. He also didn’t suffer too much. For the rest of the day, he was more irritable than normal. His appetite also went down due to the small bit he ingested. But other kids might not be so lucky.

The incident inspired his mom to share the story in a Facebook post, and she’s encouraging others to share it. She posted a picture of the package and encouraged parents not to buy it. Since there are other hand sanitizers readily available, it shouldn’t be too hard to avoid it while still practicing safety and hygiene.

“Please DO NOT buy these cute hand sanitizer pouches from Wal-Mart that can easily be mistaken for a food pouch,” she wrote. “Last week, my 18-month-old son took a sip of this pouch which led to an ambulance ride to the hospital.” From there, she told the story about the mix-up — and how quickly the situation had escalated.

“All of the medical professionals were appalled to see how much this pouch resembled food packaging,” she added. “The ER doctor even took it upon herself to send a picture to her colleague who works with poison control in attempt to raise awareness. It is my hope to warn others of this misleading packaging.”

“Ultimately, I would like to see them off the shelves completely,” she continued. “Please *SHARE* with as many people as possible to raise awareness as schools are reopening soon and the hand sanitizers will be in circulation.” While older kids may be able to differentiate the two, even adults in a hurry have the potential of accidentally mixing them up.

Back in 2015, poison control centers saw a big jump in cases where children ingested hand sanitizer. The Partnership To End Addiction noted that back in 2010, there were 3,266 calls. But in 2015, the number of calls rose to 16,117. “Kids are getting into these products more frequently, and unfortunately, there’s a percentage of them going to the emergency room,” said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the director of the Georgia Poison Center.

However, with sanitizer in packages like this, that number has the potential to increase even more. Sanitizer can be very toxic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using a sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol. Wine, in comparison, usually has around 12% alcohol in a glass. So you can imagine how quickly the sanitizer might impair a child.

Dr. Gaylord Lopez said that there are plenty of reasons outside of packing as to why kids may be interested in hand sanitizer. For some who are older, they may ingest it on a dare. Packaging any sort of product like this with popular cartoon characters is only adding to its appeal. And much like Nikki, it’s also a great way to get confused as to what type of product it actually is.

While it’s good that Logan’s safe, this is a big reminder to check your supplies and make sure you don’t have any toxic elements that may be unfortunately packaged in a kid-friendly way. It’s always important to read all packages before serving. And make sure any type of cleaning product or sanitizer is out of a child’s reach in order to avoid an incident like this.