England’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) released an official warning in response to the increased use by many commercial establishments of liquid nitrogen in cocktail drinks.
The warning was issued after a young woman celebrating her 18th birthday consumed a drink containing liquid nitrogen and became very ill. She had complained of trouble breathing and stomach pains. Doctors found that her stomach had been perforated and performed immediate surgery. The young woman is now recovering, after having most of her stomach removed.
Liquid nitrogen is non-toxic, but if misused can pose a serious threat to humans when ingested. In order to serve liquid nitrogen properly, one has to make sure the liquid has evaporated completed. If served too quickly, risks of frostbite, cryogenic burns, or more serious issues arise.
The FSA is taking steps to make sure local enforcement officers are aware of the practices using liquid nitrogen in cocktails. In addition, they will be working with law enforcement agencies to investigate these issues further.
Colin Houston, an FSA official stated, “There are safety guidelines around the use of liquid nitrogen, especially in relation to food.” He continued to explain that, if it is used in any form, it is the business owner’s responsibility to ensure their staff is trained and educated on the risks of use.
The wine bar that served the drink to the young woman has stopped serving drinks with liquid nitrogen.
Ironically, doing so may help them avoid additional heat.