Dutch authorities issue new safety warning on toxic bodybuilding supplements

By Tim Cutcliffe contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags: Dnp, Netherlands

The increasing availability of 2,4 dinitrophenol (DNP) on the grey market in the Netherlands has prompted the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) to issue a warning against the substance.

Following seizures of DNP earlier in 2017, (previously reported by NutraIngredients​), Dutch customs last week seized seven packages intended for seven different customers. The packages contained a total of 4 kilograms of DNP powder plus several hundred capsules containing the substance. The packages also contained other pills and anabolic steroids.

The packages were deliberately mislabelled as harmless food ingredients, such as chocolate powder, in an attempt to mislead customs. Research into the delivery addresses suggested that the DNP was intended for incorporation into food supplements with the final outlet being for use in gyms.

Our customs said it ​[the DNP] was coming from Hong Kong in parcel post,​” said a spokesperson from the NVWA.

The increasing frequency of confiscations prompted the NVWA Risk Assessment Office to issue a warning against the use of DNP, which appears in the Dutch press. It echoes a similar warning put out in 2015.

A lethal history

DNP was marketed in the US 1930s as a weight loss aid – due to its ability to rapidly burn fat. It was soon withdrawn after serious side effects and deaths occurred as a result of its use.

Despite health warnings, DNP is still used by some bodybuilders in order to facilitate rapid weight reduction and reduce the thickness of subcutaneous fat. However, the substance is extremely toxic with fatal doses, in some cases, of as low as 1-3 grams.

Documented symptoms​ of overdose include hyperthermia, elevated heartrate, profuse sweating and rapid breathing, eventually leading to death. At lower doses, adverse effects to the nervous system, heart and blood vessels can occur as well as skin rash and cataracts.

DNP related poisoning has led to a number of serious cases needing hospitalisation in the UK, Netherlands and France during 2017.

In the UK alone, between 2007 and 2016 DNP was mentioned on the death certificate as being involved in 15 fatalities. (Source: Office of National Statistics​)

Use continues despite ban

The continuing use of DNP in bodybuilding competitions has been verified in Holland by traces of the substance being detected in sewage water near to the buildings where such events take place.

Although banned extensively in Europe and the U.S., and withdrawn by all reputable internet, DNP is still obtainable via peer-to peer online sources and through illicit personal supply networks into gyms themselves.

The NVWA called for consumers to come forward with details on illegal DNP dealing:

“If people have any more information about those supplements for example about where they are being sold and how they are sold, they can call us or give us the information via our website,” ​commented the NVWA, ​adding that the information can be supplied anonymously.

Authorities in a number countries have acted to shut down pirate websites still selling DNP. Criminal actions have also been taken in the UK and continental Europe in order to curtail the DNP trade. The closure of illicit DNP supply operations in Northern Ireland was reported by NutraIngredients​ in 2016.

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