FDA Issues Warning Over Liquid Nitrogen Food Risks
“Dragon’s breath” and other popular novelty foods that are prepared with liquid nitrogen may pose a risk of serious and potentially life-threatening injury, according to new warnings issued by federal health officials.
The FDA issued a safety advisory Thursday, warning people not to eat or handle food prepared with liquid nitrogen, following reports of several people suffering injuries from handling or eating them.
Several of the liquid nitrogen food injury case have resulted in life-threatening problems, as well as difficulty breathing after inhaling the vapor.
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In recent years, there has been a growing trend of local restaurants that prepare ice cream, cheese puffs, and cereal using liquid nitrogen. Consumers eat the products, then exhale foggy puffs of breath from their mouths. Foods made with liquid nitrogen are often sold in malls, food courts, kiosks, local fairs, and other food retail locations.
Novelty products made with liquid nitrogen are often marketed as Dragon’s breath, Heaven’s Breath, nitro puffs, and other names describing the vapor. The products also give off a smoky vapor or a mist that is the main draw of these types of foods.
Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can also be prepared with liquid nitrogen. Those may also emit a foggy vapor.
Liquid nitrogen is non-toxic, but because it changes the temperature of the food it can cause serious injuries.
Adding liquid nitrogen can cause people who eat the products to suffer severe damage to skin and internal organs if the food is mishandled. Inhaling vapors from food prepared by adding liquid nitrogen may cause people to experience difficulty breathing, especially for those who have asthma.
Injuries can occur even after the liquid nitrogen has fully evaporated because it brings the temperature of the food down to an extremely low level. People then consume the foods before they are able to fully come back to normal temperature.
The FDA notes that the warning only applies to food treated with liquid nitrogen at the point of sale. Products prepared with liquid nitrogen prior to the point of sale and before consumption are treated in a way that the nitrogen has completely evaporated before they reach the consumer and are no longer at an extremely low temperature. Those products do not pose a significant injury risk, the agency notes.
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