Three children have died in the last ten years after swallowing a lithium button battery – also known as a “coin battery”. More than one Aussie child is hospitalised each day after ingesting a battery. It’s a real problem, and given how much smaller our gadgets are getting, they’re also an important part of how we power the future. To reduce the risk, Duracell has added a bitter non-toxic coating which should trigger many kids to spot the battery out before they swallow it.

New 2032, 2025 and 2016 Duracell lithium coin batteries will have a transparent coating of Bitrex – the most bitter substance possible.

How do I know? I tested it. Yep, I licked a battery – it was horrible. Any toddler treating a coin battery like this as a lollie will spit it out, and this should reduce those hospitalisations we should hope.

This coating is in addition to the double blister packaging and new labelling that the Duracell and other brand batteries now feature.

Mariusz Surmacz, Duracell Managing Director, Duracell Australia & New Zealand says “We are proud to be one of the world’s leading manufacturers and distributors of high-performance alkaline batteries, specialty cells and rechargeables. However, this also comes with the responsibility to help keep consumers and their families safe. 

“With that in mind, we have introduced new lithium coin batteries with a bitter coating technology that includes the Bitrex® substance to give parents another line of defence. With our products featuring the unique bitter coating technology and double blister packaging, it’s our hope that we can reinforce the child safety message and make it safer for Australian children.” 

THINK Child Care CEO and Managing Director, Mathew Edwards said, “children’s happiness and safety is at the heart of everything we do at THINK Childcare Group. Our team prides itself on ensuring the highest standard of early learning and care, within a stimulating, exciting and above all safe environments. We are excited to partner with like-minded businesses such as Duracell that stive to offer innovations to improve children’s well-being and safety.” 

Sarah Hunstead RN (NBNurs) MN, Founding Director, CPR Kids says “lithium coin batteries are found in an array of everyday household devices, and many families aren’t aware that they can be deadly if swallowed. Children are innately curious, and it is a normal part of their development to put everything in their mouth. That is why it is of utmost importance to ensure that lithium coin batteries are kept away from young children. Child proof packaging and product innovations such as a bitter coating can be a deterrent and add an extra layer of safety to help protect children from the hidden dangers of lithium coin batteries.” 

The new Power Safer Duracell Lithium Coin Batteries will be available at Coles and IGA Supermarkets. You can find them by looking for the “Bitter Coating on Battery” labelling on the package.

But a bitter taste won’t stop the problem. Nor does hard to open packaging. It helps though.

Parents and Guardians of little ones also need to take steps to protect our youngest from the coin-battery risk.

Duracell recommend the following steps:

  1. Find devices in the home that contain lithium coin batteries and swap these for Duracell lithium coin batteries with new bitter coating technology (CR2032, 2025, 2016). Then store these devices out of the reach of children. 
  2. Inspect devices and seal with tape any that do not have a screw on the battery compartment. 
  3. Seal opened multi-packs with tape to ensure children cannot access remaining batteries. 
  4. Wrap used lithium coin and button batteries in tape when disposing of them and ensure you dispose of all used batteries responsibly and immediately after removing from devices. 
  5. When purchasing new batteries, select lithium coin batteries with safety features such as child resistant packaging and bitter coating that is designed to help reduce the occurrence of accidental ingestion. 

These actions by Duracell go a whole lot further than the simple update to packaging of batteries and products using coin batteries that is being introduced under ACCC legislation. A welcome step forward – now your turn Energizer.