Skip to main content

Beware of Look-Alike Products

Jun 01, 2021
Look-Alike Products

It Could Happen to You!  

A woman mistakes fingernail glue for eye drops…a daycare worker unintentionally serves windshield wiper fluid to children thinking it is a juice drink….a child eats an entire package of chocolate laxative medicine assuming it is a candy bar. These are just a few examples of actual scenarios that poison centers deal with every day involving products that look-alike. Usually mix-ups occur because product shapes, colors, labeling and/or packaging are similar in many products. Some products can also have enticing smells, such as household cleaners, lamp oils, or e-cigarette liquid. Young children often mistake medicine for candy and cleaners & personal care products for drinks or food. Children are naturally curious and explore by touching and putting things into the mouth. It is the responsibility of adults to help keep children safe. While young children are at a particularly high risk, people of all ages are vulnerable to poisonings from look-alike products.

How to Prevent a Look-Alike Poisoning

  • Keep all potential poisons locked up and out of the reach and sight of children
  • Store non-food items in a separate location from food items
  • Keep all products in the original containers. Transferring chemicals into water bottles or soda    bottles is extremely risky and can create confusion
  • Most poisonings occur when a product or medicine is in use. Never leave a product unattended
  • Turn on the lights, put on your glasses, and read the label before using medicine, eye drops, or other health products
  • Teach children to always ask first before tasting anything

If a Poison Exposure Occurs

  1. Call the Utah Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 for free, expert, and confidential help 24/7

  2. Have the product in hand to give information to the poison specialist

  3. Stay calm and cooperate with poison experts to get fast and efficient help


Author: Sherrie Pace, MS, MCHES® Health Educator, Outreach Coordinator, Utah Poison Control Center


The UPCC is a 24-hour resource for poison information, clinical toxicology consultation, and poison prevention education. The UPCC is a program of the State of Utah and is administratively housed in the University of Utah, College of Pharmacy. The UPCC is nationally certified as a regional poison control center.