MP calls for mandatory inclusion of bitterant to antifreeze
Sherwood MP Mark Spencer is urging the government to add a bitterant to antifreeze after 22 cats were poisoned in a single village in his constituency.
The majority of the cats were poisoned during August, prompting suspicion that the cases may have been deliberate. The RSPCA is investigating.
During a debate in parliament yesterday (December 2), Mr Spencer said he has been “inundated” with messages from people all over the country who have seen similar cases of mass poisoning.
According to cats protection, nearly 1,200 cats have suffered fatal antifreeze poisoning since November 2012 – equating to 50 cats a month.
“There’s a very simple message to us as a government. We have to do something to try to assist and prevent this from happening”.
Antifreeze is said to be sweet tasting and contains the highly toxic ethylene glycol. Even very small amounts can be fatal, as it causes crystals to form in the kidneys, leading to kidney failure.
Many animal welfare organisations have called on manufacturers to add Bitrex to their antifreeze products to give them a bitter taste, discouraging animals from drinking it.
“I think we should look seriously at making manufacturers include that product in all antifreeze products that are available in the UK,” Mr Spencer said.
He also urged the government to consider asking manufacturers to look at alternatives to ethylene glycol. Some of these products are already on the market, but as they are more expensive, retailers are not always keen to stock them.
Finally, Mr Spencer called for better education and labelling to inform the public of how toxic these products are to animals.
George Eustice, parliamentary under-secretary of state, said he will draw the debate to the attention of the animal welfare minister, Lord de Mauley. However, it is “not a straightforward debate”, he added.
According to Mr Eustice, Cats Protection wrote to the government earlier this year citing US research which cast doubt on the effectiveness of Bitrex in deterring animals from drinking antifreeze. In fact, dogs and rats were found to be more influenced by other factors, such as hunger, than the sweet taste of the product.
However, Mr Eustice said he would encourage manufacturers to consider adding Bitrex on a voluntary basis.