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Accidentally freezing your internal organs is the latest food craze

Tim Nelson
September 04, 2018

Labor Day Weekend may have come and gone, but it sure was a hot summer. How hot? Hot enough for liquid nitrogen-laced foods to become something of an unexpected—and alarming— craze. It’s gotten so serious over the past month that the Food and Drug Administration has had to step in and warn consumers not to turn to the trend in an effort to keep cool.

With liquid nitrogen causing problems in everything from “Dragon’s Breath” cereal to cocktails, the FDA has implored eaters to avoid the chemical additive. In their recently-issued warning, the organization urges “consumers to avoid eating, drinking, or handling foods prepared using liquid nitrogen at point of sale and immediately before consumption, due to risk of injury.”

Though non-toxic (we breathe in nitrogen in its gas phase, after all), the insanely low temperatures that nitrogen maintains in its liquid state can cause serious external and internal harm if not handled very carefully. So far, reported cases observed by the FDA include severe damage to the skin and internal organs. If inhaled, liquid nitrogen vapor can cause serious difficulty breathing, especially for those who already suffer from asthma.

The official decree comes not too long after liquid nitrogen has found its way into seemingly everything from mall snacks to extravagant cocktail lounge creations. One popular and potentially hazardous variation is “Dragon’s Breath,” a nitrogen-dipped cereal that gets its name from the way the “misty or smoke-like vapor” makes the eater look while exhaling. While the colorful snack’s effect probably looks pretty badass to the average 12-year-old, their mothers certainly should have cause for concern.

So is there a safe way to consume a foggy liquid nitrogen cocktail or a freakily frozen cereal? Maybe. The FDA says liquid nitrogen confections that are “treated in such a way that results in the complete evaporation of liquid nitrogen before reaching the consumer and are no longer at an extremely low temperature” shouldn’t pose any serious threats of bodily harm.

While it makes for great Instagram content, Dragon’s Breath and other such chemically-enhanced treats probably aren’t worth the attendant risk. Call me crazy, but I’ll probably be sticking to room temperature cereal for the foreseeable future.  

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