The Haryana government has banned mixing of liquid nitrogen in drinks and food, a few weeks after a Delhi man ‘burnt a hole’ in his stomach after drinking a cocktail. The 30-year-old man had gulped down the liquid nitrogen in a Gurgaon pub, following which he suffered “extreme pain, abdomen swelling and breathlessness”. He was rushed to a hospital where he was operated upon. The man survived, but the incident sparked concerns over the risk with such cocktails.
The Commissioner of Haryana Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Department, Dr Saket Kumar, said, “As per expert medical opinion, any drink or food article whose preparation involves flushing or mixing of liquid nitrogen is harmful for humans. Due to its low temperature, liquid nitrogen could be extremely damaging to body tissues and can cause frostbite and cryogenic burning on contact.”
Kumar added that as it evaporates, liquid nitrogen releases a large volume of gas, which could ‘burst the stomach’ if consumed in a large quantity.
The government said that mixing of liquid nitrogen with any drink or food article was being banned in interest of health of people in the state. Kumar said the orders to this effect were issued under Section 34 of Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (Central Act 34 of 2006).
FDA Joint Commissioner Narinder Ahooja told The Indian Express that after the incident, teams raided various bars and pubs to see if they were using liquid nitrogen for instant cooling.
Ahooja said, “Liquid nitrogen is used to instantly freeze food and drinks, since it has a temperature of minus 196 degrees Celsius. With an expansion ratio of 1:694 at 20 degrees, one litre of the liquid gas can expand to 694 litres at 20 degrees, causing the stomach to burst.”