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2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP)

The dangers of DNP and the National Food Crime Unit's role in reducing the health risk to the public.

Last updated: 16 September 2019
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Last updated: 16 September 2019
See all updates

2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) is a highly toxic industrial chemical. It has been illegally sold as a diet pill for weight loss. DNP is poisonous to humans and can cause death, as well as other serious physical side effects.

It is a crime to sell DNP for human consumption in the UK. Those selling DNP can find themselves prosecuted under the Food Safety Act 1990.  Punishment can include long prison sentences.

Health risks of DNP

The effects of DNP can be catastrophic and cause serious harm to health. Taking DNP has resulted in a significant number of deaths in the UK.

Other side effects of DNP include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • restlessness
  • flushed skin
  • sweating
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • rapid breathing
  • an irregular heartbeat.

Cataracts and skin lesions may also develop, as well as damage to the heart and nervous system.

Please contact a doctor or medical professional immediately if you have taken DNP.

Illegal sale of DNP as a diet pill

The sale of DNP for human consumption is illegal. 

DNP is a yellow powder, usually made into tablet or capsule form. The pills may be sold online, on social media, in a food supplement shop, or by people at the gym. 

Some people wrongly believe taking DNP will enhance their physical appearance or cause weight loss. Sellers may falsely advertise its use, despite being aware of its dangerous effects.

National Food Crime Unit

The Food Standard Agency’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) and its law enforcement partners take the marketing and sale of DNP for human consumption very seriously. 

Sellers of DNP have been successfully prosecuted for offences under the Food Safety Act 1990, and can potentially face more serious criminal charges. Those selling DNP may find themselves serving long prison sentences.

Report anyone selling DNP immediately to the local police, the local authority, Crimestoppers, or through the National Food Crime Unit.