Liquid nitrogen cocktails are ‘unsafe’ because drinkers’ bodies cannot cope with the freezing ‘extreme cold temperatures’ inside their bodies, the government has warned.
Health minister Anna Soubry even suggested the latest drinks craze is against the law. She spoke out after teenager Gaby Scanlon had her stomach removed after being bought two 'Nitro Jagermeister' cocktails to celebrate her 18th birthday this month.
Cooling cocktail: Liquid nitrogen is used in some luxury cocktails and is known for freezing everything it comes into contact with
Miss Scanlon downed both drinks in quick succession before becoming breathless and being rushed to hospital with 'horrendous stomach pains'. Doctors diagnosed a perforated stomach and she later tweeted: 'I nearly died.' Health experts said she was the victim of an 'irresponsible alcohol industry. Now Ms Soubry has warned against the drinks, and revealed inspectors are being trained to crackdown on pubs and clubs who are putting their customers’ lives at risk.
Health minister Anna Soubry warned food standards inspectors could take action to strip pubs and clubs of their licence if they serve dangerous drinks
Health minister Anna Soubry warned food standards inspectors could take action to strip pubs and clubs of their licence if they serve dangerous drinks ‘Although liquid nitrogen is not a toxic substance, its extreme cold temperature makes it unsafe for people to drink and eat because the human body is unable to cope with such a cold internal temperature,’ Ms Soubry said. ‘All food and drink sold to consumers has to comply with the general requirements of food safety legislation under which it is an offence to sell food which is injurious to health. ‘The sale of food or drink which is unsafe is prohibited under food law.’
Popularised by celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal, liquid nitrogen - which vapourises at -196C - has been increasingly used in recent years in the preparation of drinks.
It is used to chill glasses and is a crowd-pleaser thanks to the dramatic-looking water vapour it releases at room temperature. But it is highly dangerous and can cause very serious cold burns if it comes into contact with skin or tissue and should never be ingested. It is believed the cocktails drunk by the Miss Scanlon still contained drops of the liquid nitrogen, which then caused horrendous burns to her stomach.
HOW LIQUID NITROGEN CAN CAUSE HORRIFIC DAMAGE TO THE BODY
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is responsible for food safety issues. Responding to a series of parliamentary questions, Ms Soubry said the FSA does not need additional laws to govern the use of liquid nitrogen in drinks. She added: ‘If businesses selling alcohol are convicted of food safety offences, this can lead to their alcohol licence being reviewed by the local licensing authority. ‘There are industry safety and handling guidelines around the use and storage of liquid nitrogen. It is the business owner’s responsibility to make sure that their staff have been trained and are aware of potential risks of using liquid nitrogen.' ‘They also have to have appropriate safety measures in place to protect both their staff and consumers.’ Food manufacturers, retailers and businesses in the UK have a legal obligation to make sure that any and all food they are serving to the public is fit for human consumption.
Colin Houston, the FSA’s head of incident management, said: ‘'The FSA will be making local enforcement officers aware of the practice of using liquid nitrogen in the use of cocktails and it will be something officers can incorporate as part of their inspection regime. 'We’re also working with other departments and agencies to investigate the issue and whether we need to take any further action.' Miss Scanlon was celebrating her 18th birthday when she fell ill.
Dr John Ashton, director of public health for Cumbria, said she was a victim of a dangerous gimmick used to sell more alcohol. He said: 'This girl is the victim of an irresponsible alcohol industry that's now competing on gimmicks. 'People should not be playing chemistry in public houses. This is a very, very cold substance and it is similar to subjecting your oesophagus and stomach to frost bite. 'As this case highlights there are major safety implications and it is time there was better regulation put in place to prevent things like this dreadful incident happening again.' He said a total ban would only lead to increased demand for the dangerous cocktails but said there should be 'stringent regulation.'
Dr Ashton said it was time the Government brought in better regulation of the drinks industry to stop such tragic incidents. He added: 'It is shocking that a teenage girl goes out to celebrate her 18th birthday and ends up in intensive care with life-changing injuries. 'The alcohol industry uses these types of gimmicks to make alcoholic drinks more enticing - yet staff can use liquid nitrogen without any proper training. 'These things are allowed to continue in this country because of the Government's lack on control over the drinks industry. 'Essentially it amounts to a form of cowardice because there are drinks industry interests in every constituency and the Government is worried about repercussions.' He said it was time dangerous substances like liquid nitrogen formed part of the licensing application with staff being properly trained to handle it.
Consultant gastroenterologists say the teenager will face a lifetime of specialist medical treatment in order to live a normal life. As well as being unable to digest certain things Miss Scanlon will have to avoid some sugary foods and drinks and have regular vitamin injections. Lancashire Police said the Oscars wine bar have ceased selling the liquid nitrogen cocktail.
Popularised by celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal, liquid nitrogen - which vapourises at -196C - has been increasingly used in recent years in the preparation of drinks. It is used to chill glasses and is a crowd-pleaser thanks to the dramatic-looking water vapour it releases at room temperature. But it is highly dangerous and can cause very serious cold burns if it comes into contact with skin or tissue and should never be ingested. It is believed the cocktails drunk by the Miss Scanlon still contained drops of the liquid nitrogen, which then caused horrendous burns to her stomach.
Trendy: TV chef Heston Blumenthal has pioneered the use of liquid nitrogen in his restaurants including making ice-cream using it
A number of witnesses at the wine bar were interviewed by police and the premises has stopped selling drinks containing the liquid gas. A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: 'Medical opinion is that this would have proved fatal had the operation not been carried out urgently. 'The investigation is still in its early stages and we are still interviewing witnesses to establish the full facts. The premises involved have fully co-operated with all agencies and have suspended drinks involving liquid nitrogen.'
Daily Mail UK