Dangers of Foods Containing Liquid Nitrogen for Health Read Now

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reviewed by dr. Carlinda Nekawaty

Recently, Indonesia was shocked by the emergence of cases of “Chiki Ngebul” poisoning which were triggered by liquid nitrogen in dozens of children in Tasikmalaya and Bekasi. What is liquid nitrogen and are there any dangers to foods containing liquid nitrogen?

Liquid nitrogen is often used to freeze various types of food and produce a unique “dragon breath” or smoke sensation. However, behind its uniqueness, foods containing liquid nitrogen are dangerous for health. Check out the full information in this article.

Beware of the Dangers of Foods Containing Liquid Nitrogen

Quoted from Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the addition of liquid nitrogen in food and drink poses a risk to health, for example damage to important internal organs and skin. Foods that generally contain liquid nitrogen are ice cream, alcohol, biscuits, frozen candy, and cereal. Quoted from a study published by Food Protection Trends (2021)here are some of the dangers that arise from consuming foods that contain liquid nitrogen:

1. Frostbite

Liquid nitrogen temperature below normal trigger frostbite or blisters on the mouth and lips. In addition, the following symptoms appear when the skin of the hands is exposed to liquid nitrogen:

  • Blister.
  • Burns.
  • Reddish and dark.
  • Numb.

Frostbite usually occurs when the mouth is filled with liquid nitrogen for too long or it sticks to the gums. Severity level frostbite depending on how long the skin is exposed to liquid nitrogen. In severe cases, frostbite can trigger skin tissue death.

2. Respiratory disorders

Liquid nitrogen is not recommended for people with respiratory problems, because it can exacerbate symptoms. In addition, if consumed in a closed area, there is a risk of liquid nitrogen evaporating and reducing the amount of oxygen in the air, thus triggering the body’s lack of oxygen, dizziness, and shortness of breath.

3. Holes in the digestive tract

The change in nitrogen from liquid to vapor is triggered by exposure to air or contact with a temperature higher than its boiling point. In addition, this change in shape triggers the expansion of nitrogen, so that its volume increases, even up to 694 times greater.

For example, one tablespoon of liquid nitrogen is added to food, this compound increases by 9.5 liters of gas. Excessive increase in gas volume risks injuring the digestive tract. In rare cases, the digestive tract can be perforated, torn, and bleeding or known as digestive tract perforation.

4. Poisoning

The emergence of the “Chiki Ngebul” poisoning case in dozens of children in Tasikmalaya and Bekasi, proves that the dangers of food containing liquid nitrogen should not be taken lightly.

Liquid nitrogen is a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms. The following bacteria are in liquid nitrogen:

  • Bacillus cereus.
  • Escherichia coli.
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  • Staphylococcus spp.

How to Reduce the Danger of Foods Containing Liquid Nitrogen

Quoted from Food and Drug Administration (FDA), here’s how to reduce the risk of foods containing liquid nitrogen:

  • Make sure the nitrogen evaporates in the container before consuming.
  • Consumption in an open area and not too crowded.
  • Consume slowly.
  • Make sure to use the provided skewer to eat food and don’t touch it directly.
  • When buying, don’t get too close to the liquid nitrogen cylinder.

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