The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) is pushing hard to end an illicit trade in the industrial chemical DNP (2,4-Dinitrophenol) which is being used as a fat burning, weight loss aid and has been linked to at least two deaths .
The FSA first issued a warning about DNP late last year and followed that up last week with a warning threatening criminal prosecution of any parties found to sell the chemical for human consumption.
“We know it’s still available and we are showing that we want to take action,” an FSA spokesperson told us this morning, noting pills and tablets were the most common delivery form and that it was investigating sports nutrition brands with, “our enforcement authorities and other government partners.”
This morning web sites like this and this continued to sell DNP and internet web boards abound with stories of it being sold along with other narcotics like cocaine by street dealers, along with the hazards involved if overdoses occur.
“DNP is nasty nasty sh*t.”
“DNP is nasty nasty sh*t. Get the dose wrong and you die!! Simple,” said a fellow by the name of ‘Bulldozer’ on one body building net forum.
The FSA said it was working with police and local authorities and was focusing on internet sales.
“The FSA will be providing local authorities with relevant support, including financial assistance to help with this work. We are reminding companies, including internet traders, of the criminal sanctions available to the courts to deal with any person or company found to be supplying DNP products for consumption.”
Adverse effects include, the agency said, “fever, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, flushed skin, sweating, dizziness, headaches, rapid respiration and rapid or irregular heart-beat, possibly leading to coma and death.”
Smaller doses could lead to, “cataracts and skin lesions and affect the heart, blood and nervous system.”
Dr Mark J. Tallon, LLM, PhD, MD of Legal Foods, a UK-based regulatory affairs company specialising in EU food law, told us last week DNP had been used as a slimming aid since the 1930s.
"However, DNP and many other ingredients presented as, and delivering pharmacological effects, are freely for sale across the EU and UK. Chemicals such as DNP are in breach of both medicines and food law and increased surveillance and prosecution are required to curb this problem."
"The authorities in the UK such as the FSA and MHRA [medicines regulator] are aware of the sale of such ingredients and I foresee action under both food legislation and the Misuse of Drugs Act following for those distributors that continue to put at risk human health."
An MHRA spokesperson told us the matter rested with the FSA for the moment.
Rod Ainsworth, FSA director, said: "It’s really important that people understand quite how dangerous DNP is. We have been working hard to raise awareness of the dangers of DNP and to encourage people to let us know if they are sold products containing this chemical."
"If people are offered DNP they should not take it and should instead contact the FSA or their local authority."