Antifreeze manufacturers agree to bittering agent addition

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This past December, the Consumer Specialty Products Association and Humane Society Legislative Fund announced antifreeze and engine coolant manufacturers had voluntarily agreed to add a bitter flavoring agent to their products sold nationwide.

Antifreeze and engine coolant are made with ethylene glycol, a highly toxic compound with a sweet taste that appeals to animals and children. The Humane Society Legislative Fund, an advocacy organization working to pass animal protection laws, estimates at least 10,000 animals are poisoned as a result of ingesting these products each year.

Seventeen states currently require adding a bittering agent to ethylene glycol, usually denatonium benzoate. Multiple attempts at making it a federal requirement have been unsuccessful, however.

HSLF Executive Director Sara Amundson hailed the agreement, announced Dec. 12, 2012. “After years of battling over legislation addressing this important issue, the manufacturers of antifreeze and engine coolant have been working with animal advocates to pass state laws with mutually agreed-on language,” Amundson 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.