Thirsty cyclists mistake soap for soft-drink

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Cyclists in Norway were hospitalized after drinking washing detergent 'Omo', believing it was a sports drink.. Photo: Bård Idås / NTB scanpix
20:07 CEST+02:00
Six cyclists in Norway were sent to hospital on Friday after drinking a soap detergent they thought was a sports drink.

The makers of 'Omo', a new clothes washing detergent, are considering changing their labelling after accidentally poisoning unsuspecting riders participating in the “Fredagsbirken” race in Rena, near Oslo. The product was available as part of a sampling campaign by Lilleborg, sponsors of the event.

All competitors were given a free sample of 'Omo Aktiv & Sport', together with their starting numbers before the race, reported Hamar Arbeiderblad.

The race was interrupted several times as six cyclists had to be sent to the emergency ward of the nearby hospital after having drunk what they believed to be a sports drink. It was in fact the detergent.

Anne Gjemdal, head of information at Lilleborg, told NTB: “We thought it was obvious from the label that it is a detergent, but considering what has happened, we will re-evaluate if the labelling is good enough.The product is labelled according to strict regulations.”

Gjemdal added: “We are deeply sorry that people have mistakenly thought 'Omo' was a sports drink. We hope those affected [by the misunderstanding] are well taken care of.”
Race organizers said the 'Omo' samples were clearly labelled as detergents and cyclists were told not to mix the liquid with their drinking water. After the incident, they chose to put up large posters to avoid the same mistake being made by others.

Organisers were forced to make warning signs during the race. Photo: Bård Idås / NTB scanpix
Ingunn Rønningen Kleven of the 'Birkebeiner' bicycle ride said to NTB: “Since this clothes washing detergent is especially developed for training clothes, we thought it would be relevant to give it to our contestants. They could use it to wash their training clothes after the event.”
Jo Gunnar Ellevold, head of 'Birken', said that the organizers called the Poisoning Information Centre on learning some of the contestants had drunk detergent.
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Ellevold said to VG: “We were informed that it is not dangerous to one’s health to drink around a decilitre of detergent. It produces some foam and it is natural that one will experience some discomfort for a time after drinking it.”
According to the user instructions, one should drink two to three glasses of water or milk, then contact a doctor if the detergent is drunk.

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