Discover how the Bitrex® team is using social media to reach out to parents around the world


Bitrex® is the world's bitterest substance. Discovered over 50 years ago by scientists at Macfarlan Smith, Johnson Matthey's UK based active pharmaceutical ingredients manufacturing business, it is added to household and garden products to prevent children swallowing them by accident. Its bitter, unpleasant taste means that children will spit it out at once.

Bitrex® is not a replacement for the safe storage of dangerous household, garden and garage substances. Putting hazardous materials in high or locked cupboards and buying products with child resistant caps is always recommended, which is why we describe Bitrex® as the third line of defence against accidental poisoning.

Where Bitrex® comes into its own is at moments of parental inattention. When the phone rings before the groceries are packed safely away; when another child needs some attention in the middle of cleaning – these are the moments of danger. It's not surprising that there is a peak in hospital admissions for accidental poisonings in the spring cleaning season when the opportunities for moments of inattention are at their highest.

Now Johnson Matthey's Bitrex® team is adding a new approach to raising awareness of Bitrex® among consumers. The team has decided to use social media – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – to reach out to parents around the world. They have produced a 60 second video which documents an experience familiar to every parent, grandparent and carer. How many different but spectacular ways can a child project their lovingly prepared foodstuff? The video captures the uncanny skills that babies and toddlers have for spitting out a well-aimed jet of half-chewed food. It concludes that spitting out is what babies and toddlers do best and Bitrex® is the stuff to ensure that if anything dangerous gets into their mouths, they will go right ahead and spit it out.

As a first step in getting the video viewed, it was sent to 'mummy bloggers' – mothers who write personal weblogs on the internet. The video has also been featured in Bitrex® Bites, Bitrex's® own bi-monthly newsletter which goes out to UK professionals working in the child safety and parenting arenas. In the UK, the video has been made available through a long established partnership with the Child Accident Prevention Trust (CAPT).

Feedback from both consumer and trade audiences has been excellent. The video is part of a long term drive to build a community of interest among parents, carers and professionals – a community united in their desire to see a safer environment for children. These consumer facing activities go hand in hand with the Bitrex® team's work with companies that manufacture household products and the retailers who sell them. By using Bitrex, companies in different parts of the supply chain are showing a growing commitment to their social responsibilities.

The video can be viewed on the Bitrex® consumer webpage