Future of liquid nitrogen cocktails is in doubt

10th October, 2012 by Andy Young

The future of liquid nitrogen cocktails is in the balance following a horrific incident in Lancaster, UK.

Gaby Scanlon Liquid Nitrogen Cocktails

Gaby Scanlon, 18, had her stomach removed after drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen

Gaby Scanlon, 18, had to have her stomach removed after drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen.

The incident has prompted many to question the future and safety of using chemical substances such as liquid nitrogen and dry ice in cocktails.

Doctor John Ashton, director of public health for Cumbria, told the Independent: “This girl is the victim of an irresponsible alcohol industry that’s now competing on gimmicks. Alcohol itself is a very dangerous thing if improperly handled and liquid nitrogen is a toxic chemical. It destroys human tissue.”

It is reported that Scanlon’s cocktail, called a Nitro Jagermeister, was prepared correctly, but Marion Beke from Nightjar told sb‘s Becky Paskin that he thinks the incident could bring change to the industry.

He said: “I think because of what’s happened to this poor girl, the law is going to change. Dry ice is very cold and can burn your stomach in the same way something hot can. I think liquid nitrogen will definitely be banned or restricted after this and dry ice could be affected too”.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a warning to bars currently using or considering using liquid nitrogen to make cocktails.

It said that although the substance is not toxic, it does expose the human body to extreme cold temperatures if ingested.

Colin Houston, head of incident management, FSA, said: “There are safety and handling guidelines around the use of liquid nitrogen, especially in relation to food.

“It is the business owner’s responsibility to make sure that their staff have been trained and are aware of the potential risks of using liquid nitrogen. They also have to have appropriate safety measures in place to protect both their staff and consumers.”

He added that the FSA is working with local police and health and safety officers to encourage them to monitor the use of potentially harmful substances as part of their regular inspection regime. It is also speaking with other departments and agencies to investigate the issue and decide whether any further action is needed.

All food manufacturers, retailers and hospitality businesses in the UK are lgally obliged to ensure that all food and drink sold to the public is fit for human consumption.

Paul Aitchison, chairman of Lancaster City Council’s Licensing Act Committee, said that he was at the same bar a few months ago and tried the drink.

Mr Aitchison said: “I heard about this story this morning and I was quite shocked because I have actually tried it myself. It was quite scary to think that it could have possibly happened to me.”

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