New York: Google has started clamping down on YouTube videos displaying the “Tide Pod challenge”, in which people record themselves intentionally biting into laundry detergent tabs to gain bragging rights.

The trend, which reportedly started as a joke, has gone viral, eliciting warnings from watchdogs, poison control centres and Tide manufacturer Procter & Gamble. Now Google has stepped up its efforts, saying that it is actively removing videos portraying the potentially dangerous action.

“YouTube’s community guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm. We work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate our policies,” said a YouTube spokesperson.

YouTube will remove videos that are brought to its attention and strike the channel that uploaded it. At the time of writing, the majority of videos listed for searches for the Tide Pod challenge appeared to be commentary or satirical takes on the trend, which YouTube is allowing.

Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, told CBS that ingesting the liquid within detergent pods could be deadly. She said: “This is what started out as a joke on the internet and now it’s just gone too far.”

More than 40 calls relating to children aged 13 to 19 eating laundry detergent pods have been recorded in the US this year, with half believed to be due to intentional ingestion and many more going unreported, according to Minnesota Poison Control System. Eating the pods can cause second and third-degree burns to the nose, mouth and throat, it said.

Procter & Gamble said: “We are deeply concerned about conversations related to intentional and improper use of liquid laundry packs, and have been working with leading social media networks to remove harmful content that is not consistent with their policies.

“They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance, even if meant as a joke.”

The company also recruited the high-profile New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski to produce a public safety video.

The viral videos are just one of a series of scandals facing YouTube and its content creators, such as Logan Paul, which has spurred Google into action through the restriction of advertising revenue.