Media release: Anti-freeze alert!

THE Child Accident Prevention Trust, in partnership with Macfarlan Smith – discoverers of bittering agent, Bitrex – is alerting parents to the risks posed by anti-freeze, windscreen wash, de-icer and other winter automotive products.

Begins a spokesperson: “In 2008/09, the National Poisons Information Service received 512 calls to their helpline about products involving methanol and ethylene glycol, 101 of these involved children.

“These products pose a particular danger to children as their colourful appearance, intriguing smell and sweet taste can be very attractive.

“They often contain highly toxic methanol and ethylene glycol; small amounts of these chemicals can cause blindness, kidney failure and even death if swallowed.”

Katrina Phillips, chief executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust, says: “Parents should be aware that child resistant packaging, while very important, is not foolproof, and that potentially dangerous products MUST be stored out of reach of children.

“You should also choose products containing a bittering agent like Bitrex, which makes toxic chemicals very difficult to swallow, should they get into the hands of small children.”

The spokesperson added: “In France, and in 14 states of the US, the law requires that ethylene glycol-based anti-freeze contain a bittering agent. In the UK, there is growing awareness of their potential to prevent child poisonings.”

Cameron Smith of Macfarlan Smith, discoverers of bittering agent, Bitrex, said: “‘We think of our product as the ‘third line of defence’ against accidental swallowing.

“While child-resistant packaging and careful storage are crucial precautions, a moment of inattention while using a product could still lead to disaster. All products displaying the round Bitrex logo are carefully tested to ensure that they are very difficult to swallow.

“We all need anti-freeze and de-icing products to get us through the winter, but it is reassuring for parents to know that there is an extra barrier between these potentially dangerous chemicals and their children.”

Information for parents is available from CAPT, and from the Bitrex website



Ali O’Neale,  Cloudline PR  07889 016094/0131 553 8660

Notes for editors


Denatonium Benzoate was discovered in 1958 by Macfarlan Smith and registered under the Bitrex trademark in the United Kingdom, Canada and the USA later the same year. First used in denaturing alcohol – making it legally unfit for consumption – it is now added to a wide range of household cleaners, pesticides, and DIY and automotive products. Since being approved in the UK and US in the early 1960s, Bitrex has been officially recognised as the denaturant of choice in more than 40 countries.

UK sales began in 1960, and by 1963, customers included I.C.I, Rentokil and Avon Products. The first use of Bitrex simply as a taste aversive was in a cream to prevent tail-biting in pigs.

Bitrex® has been used in a variety of applications since. One of the main uses is as a human aversive. Due to its overwhelming bitter taste, it is ideal for helping prevent accidental poisonings. Many supermarkets in the UK and Europe use the Bitrex® logo on their products as a selling point to their customers.

Child Accident Prevention Trust:

The Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT) is a leading charity working to reduce the number of children and young people killed, disabled or seriously injured in accidents. It wants to see children leading active, healthy lives – not ‘wrapped in cotton wool’. It is the national organiser of Child Safety Week. For more information visit

The Child Accident Prevention Trust is a leading charity working to reduce the number of children killed, disabled or seriously injured by accidents, without ‘wrapping them in cotton wool’. Its re-vamped website,, features easy-to-follow safety advice for both professionals and parents, plus quizzes and puzzles to help both children and parents learn more about safety.

Ali O’Neale

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Cloudline PR
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Contact: Ali O’Neale