The bosses of Halfords, in the United Kingdom, deserve a pat of the back for voluntarily deciding to add a bittering agent (sometimes called a “bitterant”) to their antifreeze. They also add a bitterant called “Bitrex”® to their screen wash. It is probably the same chemical that is added to their antifreeze. Although Halford’s products contain a bittering agent, they sell products from other manufacturers that don’t.
In the UK, as far as I am aware, there is neither a legal requirement to add a bittering agent to antifreeze, nor to use propylene glycol, which is much safer than ethylene glycol, the commonly used but highly toxic chemical. I have to ask, Why? A defective government, probably.
In the USA, there were attempts to create a legal requirement to add a bitterant. However, a bill, the Antifreeze Bittering Act of 2009, died a death at the committee stage. To me, it seems extraordinary that such a simple and useful piece of legislation cannot become law. Bitterant also save the lives of kids as well as cats and wildlife.
The objective of the Antifreeze Bittering Act of 2009 was:
To amend the Federal Hazardous Substances Act to require engine coolant and antifreeze to contain a bittering agent so as to render it unpalatable….
Thankfully and wisely, the manufacturers voluntarily decided to add bitterant to all antifreeze and engine coolant. This puts the USA ahead of the UK in this regard. In the UK, there are still many cases of the deliberate poisoning of cats by people putting food down laced with antifreeze. It is time for all manufacturers in the UK to follow the US example.
Those are the “facts” as I have researched them. There are probably other manufacturers who have been equally responsible. If a visitor knows of a manufacturer, please comment.
What I am yet to discover is how effective a bittering agent is to stop cats licking up antifreeze. Will a cat be able to smell the bittering agent when the antifreeze is mixed with food as is often the case in malicious poisonings? I suspect a cat will pick up the smell because they have an excellent sense of smell, which well beyond the capabilities of humans.