ROTTERDAM - Food producer Unilever will immediately remove all packages of Planta from the shelves. Production is also stopped. The margarine is said to be responsible for the itchy bumps, that with thousands of people, especially around Rotterdam, causes major problems.

All patients examined by the GGGD in Rotterdam, have used the drug. Planta has recently been renewed, let Unilever know. An anti-splash emulator has been added.

A cause has been found at breakneck speed today. A GP this morning overheard two boys talking about the bumps. One of the two had said "this was because of the use of the new butter".

The doctor immediately called the GGGD. After investigation it turned out that everyone had used the new drug. At the end of the afternoon, the GGGD was already sitting around the table with the management of Unilever. The company then immediately took measures.

Clinical picture

At the end of last week, the first patients reported with an incessant itching all over the body, in combination with bright red bumps. Initially it was thought of a virus, just like two years ago in Germany, when a bladder disease took place there. But the GGGD in Rotterdam received indications this morning that it was an allergic reaction.

Most people complain of itching. But there are also people who have been admitted to hospital. Het Vrije Volk spoke to one of the patients, who reported extensively.

“Then one wakes up in the middle of the night because of a burning itching on the soles of the feet and toes.. They are cooled down under a cold shower and the itching appears to have increased. "

(Het Vrije Volk, 23-08-1960)

“An hour later they wake up from a light sleep, because the itching has crept up to the shins and an hour later he is back higher. One therefore gradually discovers some red spots. And if one shaves in the early morning, it turns out to bring the irritation to the jaw and neck and then one is just about covered. ”

(Het Vrije Volk, 23-08-1960)

Unilever has now placed an appeal

Hoe ging het verder?

A few days later it becomes clear what the source is: Planta, the renewed Unilever vegetable margarine. Monday afternoon, two days after all alarm bells have gone off, a doctor overhears a 7-year-old say to a friend "that's because they ate that new butter at your place".

The GP immediately contacts the GGGD. A few hours later, it can already be established that most of the patients had used the renewed medicine.

At the end of the afternoon, there will be a meeting between the GGGD management and Unilever. The researchers have already established that all patients had eaten Planta. The company then immediately stopped production and supply of the new drug.

The problems are caused by an anti-splash agent, ME-18. It is a means to prevent the butter from splashing during frying and frying. However, it has not been tested on humans, it turns out later.

The day after the announcement, according to Het Vrije Volk, thousands of Rotterdam housewives lined up to hand in their package of Planta.

In total, four people were killed, after using Planta. Hundreds of people had to go to hospital.

Later it turns out that Unilever had incorporated leftover Planta into other products. Unilever will be banned from selling all 55 margarine brands.

Not everyone became ill from the use of Planta. Research showed that there are such 500.000 The Dutch have used the drug. Of them got there 100.000 disease symptoms.

Unilever returned in total 1,25 million guilders in grief money to a group of 8000 victims. It does not come to a public trial. Unilever becomes behind closed doors 1964 "Excluded from prosecution". There would be no legal evidence that ME-18 was the direct cause of the disease. Among other things, it is mentioned that not everyone who used Planta also became ill.

The loss for Unilever is ultimately estimated at 7,5 miljoen gulden. The brand is replaced by Brio. That's the old Planta (without emulator).

A parliamentary investigation into Planta will also follow, but that has no consequences for Unilever.


The Free People – 23-8-1960 – Unilever takes the newest Plante off the market

Het Vrije Volk – 24-08-1960 – Little boy (7) put doctors on Planta's trail

The truth – 02-07-1964 – Inner chamber

RTV Rijnmond – Vergeten Verhalen – Planta is the only thing I supply U-ni

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