Foods Prepared With Liquid Nitrogen Can Cause Life Threatening Injuries, FDA Warns

liquid-nitrogen prepared food
Manustart / Shutterstock

Over the past decade, there has been a massive number of cases where food trends have gone horribly wrong. Liquid nitrogen is one of the more aesthetically pleasing trends, which makes it appealing to those who don’t understand the risks.

Across food courts, fairs, and specialty kiosks, a new treat has been blooming. Known as “Heaven’s Breath” or “Dragon’s Breath,” the trend involves preparing food items with liquid nitrogen and eating them. The foods produce a misty vapor, and the mist can be blown out through the mouth or nose as a party trick. Many foods can be infused, including cheese puffs, ice cream, and cocktails.

However, the FDA recently released a warning about consuming these foods, especially if the liquid nitrogen was added shortly before the point of sale or consumption.

“The FDA has become aware of severe — and in some cases, life-threatening — injuries, such as damage to skin and internal organs caused by liquid nitrogen still present in the food or drink. Injuries have occurred from handling or eating products prepared by adding liquid nitrogen immediately before consumption, even after the liquid nitrogen has fully evaporated due to the extremely low temperature of the food.”

According to CNN, the FDA is working on understanding how retail and food establishments are using liquid nitrogen. While they reported injuries associated with the nitrogen-infused foods, they did not include details about how many have been hurt so far.

The danger does not necessarily come from liquid nitrogen in general, however. The foods are fully edible once the substance has evaporated, but trying to consume or touch it too soon can result in burn-like injuries. If ingested, it can cause serious damage to internal organs. Even breathing the vapor can irritate those with asthma, causing respiratory problems.

“Although liquid nitrogen is nontoxic and is currently used in medical settings and as an ingredient to prepare some food products, liquid nitrogen can freeze foods resulting in extremely low temperatures. This temperature can present risk of injury to consumers,” the FDA statement read.

“Further, applying liquid nitrogen immediately prior to consumption increases the risk of accidental ingestion or direct contact with liquid nitrogen because it does not provide enough time for the liquid nitrogen to fully evaporate.”

All in all, the trend should end. While the liquid nitrogen-infused foods aren’t deadly on their own, it might be best to avoid them anyway.