He was sentenced at Stirling Sheriff Court to 37 months in jail for distributing 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP), a highly toxic industrial chemical – if ingested by humans, DNP can kill or cause serious side-effects.
George pled guilty to a charge that, between 1 May 2017 and 8 October 2021 – both dates inclusive – at various premises, including Muscle Hut in Camelon, he culpably and recklessly supplied the public with 2,4-dinitrophenol for human consumption knowing the substance was unsafe, injurious to health and potentially lethal if ingested, doing all of this to the danger of life.
His sentencing followed a joint investigation between the FFS’s Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU), Police Scotland and Falkirk Council’s Environmental Health department and is the first case of its kind involving DNP to be prosecuted in Scotland.
SFCIU head Ron McNaughton said this sentence highlighted the importance of the continuous collaborative work being undertaken by the SFCIU, as well as local authorities such as Falkirk Council, and Police Scotland to keep people safe.
“We welcome today's sentencing as we know that DNP has tragically been responsible for at least 33 deaths in the UK since 2007 and it remains of critical importance that we continue to highlight the dangers of DNP again and again,” he added.
“DNP is not safe for human consumption under any circumstances. If you consume DNP you are very likely to become ill, potentially seriously ill, and there is a real possibility that you could die as a result. I cannot be more clear.”
Banned for human consumption but still marketed online as a weight loss aid, DNP will be regulated under the Poisons Act 1972 from October 1. It is also classified as an explosive and was previously used as a herbicide before being withdrawn from agricultural use in 1998.
Disregard for safety
Helen Nisbet, procurator fiscal for Tayside, Central & Fife, said: “Jamie George sold this dangerous substance without any regard for the safety of anyone who might be buying these substances from him. This was a coordinated effort by enforcement agencies to disrupt the trafficking of a harmful drug through Scotland.
“With each successful conviction of this kind, we can help reduce the harm that these drugs inflict on Scotland’s communities. The National Food Crime Unit’s first successful conviction saw a man sentenced to 28 months in prison after he illegally sold DNP as a diet pill in December 2021.”
Meanwhile, the concerning trend of using medical solutions to tackle obesity over a robust food strategy was highlighted as a key challenge for the food and drink industry at this year’s City Food & Drink Lecture.