Newark, NJ – Warning. A popular snack is causing health concern in the medical community for its potential to cause serious injury to the mouth, throat/ esophagus and stomach if ingested. New Jersey Poison Control Experts recommend avoiding any product infused with liquid nitrogen at the point of sale, including “Dragon’s Breath”, until more information is available.
Marketed under names like “Dragon’s Breath”, “Heaven’s Breath” and “Nitro Puff”, these snacks are made when extremely cold liquid nitrogen is added to cereal or cheese puffs for the desired effect of breathing out smoke/vapor through the mouth and nose, resembling that of a dragon. Vapor is released when the cold liquid nitrogen mixes with the warmth inside the mouth. Liquid nitrogen is used in many frozen drinks and food products, including ice cream, but it evaporates and allows the food to come up to a safe temperature before consumption. When added at the point of sale, any leftover liquid nitrogen, or the extremely low temperature it produces, can lead to an injury similar to frostbite – but in the mouth and other internal organs.
“Swallowing liquid nitrogen can be life-threatening,“ says Diane Calello, MD, NJ Poison Control Center Executive and Medical Director, Rutgers NJ Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine. “The NJ Poison Control Center has been consulted for several liquid nitrogen exposure cases here in New Jersey.” In one incident, a teen drank a bit of liquid nitrogen while experimenting with making ice cream. This resulted in serious health outcomes and caused long-term damage to his esophagus and stomach. “Our most recent case involved a female who required evaluation in a hospital emergency room after ingesting two Dragon’s Breath puffs. This patient experienced what she described as severe acid reflux.”
Other patients have experienced breathing problems and asthma-like symptoms. According to Bruce Ruck, Managing Director of the NJ Poison Control Center, risk doesn’t just come with swallowing products like Dragon’s Breath. Consumers must be extremely careful when handling products dipped in liquid nitrogen due to the potential for burns and damage to the skin.
“We are alerting the public today of the serious health hazards posed by these products in the hopes that we can prevent further injury,” says Calello. “Avoid products where liquid nitrogen is added at the point of sale, it is not worth the risk.” The US Food and Drug Administration has also just released a safety alert in response to these concerns.
In the event you or someone else is exposed to liquid nitrogen, call the NJ Poison Control Center to get the medical help or information you need right away. Call, text, or chat with a health professional for free, 24/7. Save the Poison Help line, 1-800-222-1222, in your phone today so you're prepared for what may happen tomorrow, (www.njpies.org).
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U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “FDA Advises Consumers to Avoid Eating, Drinking, or Handling Food Products Prepared with Liquid Nitrogen at the Point of Sale,” August 30, 2018