There is a push to replace the safety signs ” skull and crossbones ” as the international symbol for poison. Because of the popularity of pirates, many children no longer see the symbol as a warning. A proposed alternative is “Mr. Yuk”.
Mr. Yuk is a trademarked graphic image, created by the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and widely employed in the United States in labeling of substances that are poisonous if ingested.
The Mr. Yuk symbol has been used as a replacement for the traditional skull-and-crossbones (a.k.a. Jolly Roger) warning label for poison. Since children may associate this symbol with pirates, the symbol may be less effective at deterring ingestion.
To evaluate the effectiveness of six projected symbols (skull-and-crossbones, red stop sign, and four others), tests were conducted at day care centers. Children in the program rated Mr. Yuk as the most unappealing product. By contrast, children rated the skull-and-crossbones to be the most appealing.
However, at least two peer-reviewed medical studies (Fergusson 1982, Vernberg 1984) have suggested that Mr. Yuk stickers do not effectively keep children away from potential poisons and may even attract children. Specifically, Vernberg and colleagues note concerns for using the stickers to protect young children. Fergusson and colleagues state that “the method may be effective with older children or as an adjunct to an integrated poisoning prevention campaign.