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The Pest Detectives: The Definitive Guide to Rentokil by Rob Gray

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Crisis strikes: The Smarden Incident

Perhaps the lowest point in the company’s entire history occurred in 1963 when spillage of chemical residue at Rentokil’s factory at Smarden in Kent contaminated adjacent agricultural land, causing the deaths of around 20 farm animals. The toxic substance, fluoroacetamide, was used both as an insecticide for famers and gardeners and, in a more concentrated form, as a rodenticide. Rentokil cooperated fully with the authorities throughout the crisis and acted responsibly in dealing with what became known as the Smarden Incident.

The Smarden Incident hit the headlines and was debated in parliament. On 3 February 1964, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Christopher Soames – as it happens, Sir Winston ...

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