Safety Packaging

There is very little that is more aggravating on a day to day basis as the frustration of opening packages of food, bottles of medicine, liquid bottles, and purchased over the counter drugs. Millennials take these inconveniences for granted, never really questioning the origin and implications for older Americans.

In 1982, in the Chicago suburb near O’Hare Airport, the parents of a child with a headache purchased Tylenol to treat her. Hours later the child was found unconscious on the floor. She was taken to the hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later ( Six more area residents died after taking the store bought cyanide-laced Tylenol. These “Tylenol murders” changed packaging dramatically and forever, apparently. In 1983, Congress enacted a bill making it a federal offense to tamper with packaging of food and drugs. Six years later the FDA required consumer products be sold in tamper-resistant packaging.

Prior to this incident, a child safety cap was the extent of protection. Since then there are rings of shrink- wrapped plastic around the top of the bottle with warnings not to use if the seal is broken. In addition, there is a foil seal on the top of the bottle. Usually, of course, there is also a lift up tab that won’t really pull the seal off the bottle and requires a knife to puncture. Sometimes there is an impossible cap with a “press down and turn” direction which requires a person with gorilla strength to manipulate. Also, there is often a heavy plastic shrink type hard plastic which encases an item and requires a sharp, heavy duty scissor to open, if one is lucky, or the use of a sharp knife which is an accident waiting to happen. The new zip-press closures on bags require a scissor to cut off the strip above the ziplock and remarkable finger strength to separate. Then there is the need for special finger dexterity to align the two sides and press to seal.

All of this is wonderful to ensure safety of our food and other consumer products. However, those of us with arthritic fingers and hands are unable to open many of these products. Ordering medications from the pharmacy is now easier to obtain in non-child proof bottles. The rest of items require heavy duty scissors, pliers, or another stronger human to open.

Life as we age is a bit of a challenge, even the simplest tasks 😦

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