Cyclists Hospitalized After Mistaking Soap for Soda

A confusing label made racers think they’d been given energy drinks
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

A bike race in Norway had to be stopped several times Friday when competitors mistook their free soap samples for energy drinks and drank them.

A bizarre accident at a bike race in Norway proves clear label design is an essential part of product development, because six cyclists were hospitalized for accidentally drinking bottles of soap they mistook for energy drinks.

According to The Local, sponsors of the bike race handed out small bottles of a new detergent called Omo Aktiv & Sport to all participants before the event last Friday. The detergent was designed to clean sweaty activewear, so it made sense for its makers to distribute it to competitive cyclists. Unfortunately, the samples came in little round bottles that looked like energy drinks, and the race had to be paused several times when competitors tossed them back and accidentally poisoned themselves.

“We thought it was obvious from the label that it is a detergent,” said Anne Gjemdal of Lilleborg, which sponsored the race. “But considering what has happened, we will re-evaluate if the labelling is good enough.”

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The cyclists were taken to a nearby hospital, and they will all reportedly be just fine. Race organizers, meanwhile, put up a big sign by the Omo distribution table that said, “Warning. Do not drink!! It’s soap.”