Many young children use their mouths to taste, bite or chew the objects around them – but in today’s environment, this normal behaviour can lead to accidental swallowing of harmful toys and household chemicals.
31,500 children were sent to hospital with suspected poisoning in 2002 (last available A&E statistics), of which 26,000 were under 5 years of age. (See CAPT Factsheet) Why take the risk on accidental poisoning?
Bitrex is the brand name of the most bitter substance yet discovered and that's official according to the 1982 Guinness Book of Records ! It is inert and odourless, but only tiny amounts are needed to make products taste unpalatable. Children are particularly sensitive to bitter tastes, making Bitrex a powerful deterrent to accidental swallowing.
Macfarlan Smith has developed relationships with organisations who are expert in the field of Child Safety, working with the Child Accident Prevention Trust in the U.K., the National Safety Council in the U.S.A., Institut de Prévention des Accidents domestique in France and the Green Cross in Germany.
A Brief History of Bitrex®
Denatonium Benzonate 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.
The discovery of Bitrex
During routine work on local anaesthetics, laboratory staff noticed that the powdered form of denatonium benzoate was extremely bitter. Prepared in solution, it was found to be much more potent than the standard alcohol denaturant at the time, Brucine.
UK sales of the new denaturant began in 1960, and by 1963, customers included I.C.I, Rentokil, Gillette 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.