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Antifreeze Makers Seek to Save Fido with Bittering Agent

Sections: Car Safety

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A gallon jug

Antifreeze can be appealing to animals and small children because of the sweet taste given off by the ethylene glycol it contains, so the antifreeze industry is working to make the stuff taste more bitter. (Siamimages courtesy http://www.stockfreeimages.com/.)

In my part of the country, it’s how callous individuals who have a problem with a neighbor’s cat or dog “fix the problem:” Putting antifreeze out somewhere the animal can’t resist taking a drink of it. Now the industry that makes antifreeze is adding some bad-tasting stuff to the mix in an effort to dissuade Fido– or even your kids.

According to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the sweet taste that appeals to dogs and all manner of domesticated and wild animals comes from the ethylene glycol in antifreeze. The publication quotes The Humane Society Legislative Fund’s stats that “at least 10,000 animals are poisoned as a result of ingesting these products each year.”

Though JAVMA noted there are laws on the books in 17 states requiring the addition of a “bittering agent” to make the antifreeze taste bad and thus discourage animals and children from drinking it. However, the effort to pass a national guideline has proven difficult. In response, the industry is voluntarily adding the bittering agent to the mix, JAVMA said:

“Today, all major marketers are placing the bitterant in antifreeze in all 50 states,” said Phil Klein, executive vice president of legislative and public affairs for the Consumer Specialty Products Association. The trade organization represents the household and industrial products industry.

The AVMA supported federal legislation mandating the addition of a bittering agent. Additionally, the Association has a policy that encourages using clear warning labels emphasizing the potential danger of ethylene glycol and efforts to make the compound less palatable to animals.

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