A proposal that would require industry to add an ingredient to vehicle anti-freeze to make it less tasty to animals has cleared a key US government senate committee.

Reuters said the Commerce Committee approved a measure introduced by Senator George Allen, a Virginia Republican and chairman of the consumer affairs subcommittee, that would require anti-freeze and coolant manufacturers to include a bittering agent in their liquid products.

Most common anti-freeze contains ethylene glycol, a bright green liquid that tastes sweet to animals. It is lethal to pets in small doses, the committee reportedly said.

About 10,000 dogs and cats are accidentally poisoned by antifreeze each year, according to estimates by some veterinary experts, Reuters said. One of the most common ways for animals to come in contact with anti-freeze is from a leaking auto cooling system.

The panel's proposal that was sent to the full Senate for action also would require federal consumer product regulators to determine whether a common bittering agent, denatonium benzoate, or DB, harms the environment. If so, the government could substitute an alternative additive.

The legislation would exempt manufacturers from liability if they included the DB additive in their coolant products, the committee said, according to Reuters.