• In the case of Worsley v Tambrands Ltd [2000] P.I.Q.R. P95, it was held that, in the case of warning leaflets detailing the risks of Toxic Shock Syndrome inside a tampon box, that warnings were sufficient to discharge liability concerning a defective product.

Facts of the Case

  • On 9th July 1994, C developed Toxic Shock Syndrome from the use of a tampon during a menstrual period.
  • C believed her symptoms to be signs of food poisoning and went for some time without consulting a doctor about the possibility of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
  • On 16th July, C collapsed and was admitted to hospital. Evidence of Toxic Shock Syndrome was found at this time, saving C from a near-fatal infection.
  • C sued D, the tampon manufacturer under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, arguing that the tampon was defective.
    C argued that the warning leaflet in the tampon box was not sufficient and ambiguously worded, falling below the standard the public are entitled to expect.
  • C argued that D should have foreseen that the leaflet might not be read or retained, and thus full details of the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome should have been printed on the outside of the box.


  • Was the warning sufficiently displayed on the leaflet to alert consumers to the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Held by the Queen’s Bench Division

  • Finding for D, that the tampons were not a defective product. Furthermore, the warning provided on the pamphlet was sufficiently prominent, readable, and detailed to fall within the standard the public are entitled to expect.

Mrs. Justice Ebsworth

  • The test for a defective product under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 is objective and imposes a form of strict liability. C must show that the tampon was defective within the meaning of the 1987 Act and that the damage was caused wholly or partly by the defect within the product.
  • The starting point must be that there was a warning on the tampon box purchased. That notice directed the user to the leaflet contained within with the warning to ‘read and save the enclosed information.’ There was a leaflet in the particular box. Those warnings were entirely familiar to the claimant. The only reason C did not read the leaflet was because her husband had thrown it away.
  • Toxic Shock Syndrome is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, but it is necessary to balance the rarity and gravity of the situation. That balance is reasonably and safely struck by the dual system of a clearly visible risk warning on the box and a legible full explanation in the leaflet.
  • I accept that the US leaflet design is better than the UK one, but the question is whether the UK design falls below statutory or common law standards. The UK design is legible, and the warning is prominently displayed using bold text.
  • “The reality of this case is that C had lost the relevant leaflet and, for some inexplicable reason, misremembered its contents as to the onset of the illness. That does not render the box or the leaflet defective, and the claim must fail.  had done what a menstruating woman was, in all the circumstances, entitled to expect: (1) they had a clearly legible warning on the outside of the box directing the user to the leaflet; (2) the leaflet was legible, literate, and unambiguous and contained all the material necessary to convey both the warning signs and the action required if any of them were present; and (3) they cannot cater for lost leaflets or for those who choose not to replace them, as the claimant could have done after the Tuesday when she discovered the loss” [43].