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hungry for science

Science views from the Food Standards Agency
James Baker, the FSA’s Social Media Manager, explains how social media can help us identify norovirus outbreaks much earlier than labs confirm the cases.

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Elevated temperature and perspiration can be signs that you are exercising effectively. However, if these signs occur after you take the so called ‘fat burning’ substance DNP, they can mean irreversible damage is being done to your body.

DNP (or more correctly 2,4-DNP) is an abbreviation for 2,4-dinitrophenol. It is a chemical used in industrial manufacturing. It is not, as has been incorrectly claimed, used as a pesticide, and it is not fit for human consumption.

If consumed, DNP acts as a mitochondrial uncoupler, which means that it disrupts the normal way that the body produces and stores energy. Instead, this energy is released as heat, which elevates the body temperature and increases perspiration. To compensate, the body increases its respiratory rate and pulse rate, so that more oxygen can be delivered to the tissues.

Individual sensitivity to DNP is highly variable but, plainly speaking, if you take a dose that is effective enough to reduce your body fat, the side effects could kill you.

A one-off dose that is too high for you can result in nausea, vomiting, restlessness, flushed skin, sweating, dizziness, headaches, rapid respiration, a heart-rate higher than normal, fever, possibly leading to coma and death.

Even repeated low doses can cause chronic effects, including cataracts, skin lesions, and effects on the heart, blood and nervous system.

Our advice is: If you want to lose weight, you should elevate your temperature and increase your perspiration in the normal way – through exercise – and by eating a balanced diet.

Don’t use DNP. It’s likely to damage your body. It may kill you.

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It's goodbye from me. But I'll leave you with a quiz to test how much you've learned since the blog was launched almost seven years ago.

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Want to become more altruistic? Think scientifically.

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New rules on allergen labelling should mean that all labels will include information in the same place.

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Interesting article by Prue Leith in the Spectator. Among other things, she  picks us up on our cooking time advice and says: ‘…if chefs stuck to the temperatures and times decreed, there would be no more pink duck breasts, liver or kidneys, no more steak tartare, no more rare steak or burgers.’

There’s a serious point here because, while I love eating out and enjoy a rare steak as much as the next person, I also accept that there is a serious risk from eating some undercooked foods.

But we don’t make up cooking times to frustrate creativity in the kitchen. They’re there for an important reason and are the result of careful consideration by an independent expert committee in these matters – the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (or ACMSF for short).

So, while I understand the occasional frustration of Prue and other restaurateurs, there is a danger that the media could be over-egging the pudding on this. I think the FSA and local authorities get the balance right between letting chefs do their jobs and protecting public health.

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