Only 4% of Scots aware of potentially deadly DNP substance
25 February 2019, 05:33
Only 4% of people in Scotland are aware of the potentially deadly substance DNP, new research has suggested.
DNP, or 2,4-dinitrophenol, can be illegally marketed as a "fat-burning" food supplement for weight loss or health and fitness.
It is sold as tablets or capsules and despite not being suitable for human consumption, 26 people have died in Britain since 2007 from taking it.
The new survey for Food Standards Scotland (FSS) said 35% of Scots would take and/or purchase a supplement marketed to help them lose weight, with this rising to 55% for one marketed as a health and fitness product.
While 83% of Scots had not heard of DNP, half of those who had heard of it knew it had been marketed as a food supplement.
However, 95% of those surveyed said they would not use the substance once knowing it can be fatal.
Ron McNaughton, head of the public sector body's Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit, said it was worrying the figure was not 100%.
He said: "Our survey shows a significant amount of the people in Scotland are unaware of this deadly substance, which is marketed illegally as a 'fat burner', and the majority would purchase or take a supplement marketed to help them lose weight or promote health and fitness.
"Also more worryingly, 5% of respondents would still risk taking DNP even knowing it could kill them.
"Food Standards Scotland are here to make sure that Scotland's health is protected when it comes to food and food supplements.
"People in Scotland need to be aware of the dangers of DNP. It's not safe for human consumption under any circumstance.
"We are concerned people may be at risk of serious consequences if they believe their weight-loss supplement is safe, but don't know what's in it and can't verify its origin."
Symptoms of DNP include fever, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, dizziness and headaches and even blindness.
In August 2018 an apparent stash of the substance was seized in Scotland, though FSS did not reveal further details about how much was recovered or where.
Mr McNaughton added: "It's vital that no one puts themselves at risk by taking DNP.
"If you suspect you've been sold a product containing DNP or have any information about it being sold, then please do not take it.
"Report it anonymously via our Scottish Food Crime Hotline in partnership with Crimestoppers on 0800 028 7926 or through the online form on our website."