Woman Loses Stomach After Drinking Liquid Nitrogen Cocktail

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Charles D Winters / Getty Images

Liquid nitrogen is poured from a container.

An 18-year-old British woman’s birthday celebration was cut short by a trip to the hospital, ITV News reported.

Gaby Scanlon, of the village of Heysham, went out with friends to the Lancaster City Centre to celebrate on Oct. 4. After drinking a cocktail made with liquid nitrogen at Oscars wine bar, she complained of feeling breathless and then developed severe stomach pain, ITV reported.

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Paramedics transported Scanlon to Lancaster Royal Infirmary hospital, where she underwent an emergency gastrectomy following a diagnosis of a perforated stomach. The teen is in serious but stable condition, according to a press release from the Lancashire Constabulary.

“Medical opinion is that this would have proved fatal had the operation not been carried out urgently,” police told Reuters.

The bar has cooperated with agencies investigating the case and suspended all drinks involving liquid nitrogen. The management told ITV that it was “tremendously concerned” about Scanlon.

Liquid nitrogen is extremely cold — the element turns into a gas at temperatures above -321 degrees Fahrenheit — and has a variety of medical and culinary uses due to its ability to flash-freeze almost anything. In bartending, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze alcohol. Paul Aitchison, Lancaster’s licensing councillor, told ITV that the novelty of liquid nitrogen drinks could entice customers to try them. Aitchison admitted he had tasted the Nitro Jagermeister, the cocktail that hospitalized Scanlon.

“I was quite shocked because I have actually tried [the drink] myself,” Aitchison told ITV. “You assume the drinks served in licensed premises will be safe. I didn’t have an adverse reaction to it. Unfortunately Gaby has and my heart goes out to her and I hope that she gets better.”

The UK Food Standards Agency released a statement warning consumers to exercise caution when consuming cocktails made with liquid nitrogen because of the human body’s inability to deal with the chemical’s cold temperature.

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However, some experts believe liquid nitrogen has no place at all in beverages. Malcolm Povey, professor of food physics at Leeds University, told Reuters that consuming the substance in its fluid form is dangerous.

“The liquid nitrogen would rapidly change into gas and blow the stomach up like a balloon…the idea that people put this stuff in drinks is just unbelievable,” Povey said.

Following Scanlon’s recovery, she should be able to live normally. Gastrectomy patients can eat and drink ordinary food in smaller quantities, and they should also take vitamin supplements to make sure they are properly nourished, according to the BBC.

Scanlon isn’t the first to lose her stomach to liquid nitrogen. In 1999, a student from Worcester Polytechnic Institute underwent a gastrectomy after pouring liquid nitrogen in his mouth during a demonstration at an ice cream social, according to a WPI press release.

MORE: Punched Up: Mixing Victorian-Era Cocktails with Molecular Gastronomy

40 comments
Brad Lavins
Brad Lavins

Drinking LN2 can be dangerous for many reasons.  It is possible to touch it without getting burned due to the leidenfrost effect.  I have done it.  You can see a video of me drinking it on a new series on discovery channel called "You have been warned!"  Episode 2.  It will air in the UK on the 24th and in the US next year sometime.  You can also see it on my youtube channel.  youtu.be/AbyfMfipb1k  I wouldn't recommend swallowing it not just because of it's cold temperature but because it will expand so rapidly that your stomach could explode.  I have used it to blow up trash cans and soda bottles.  

Leigha Lewis
Leigha Lewis

Okay people--these drinks are safe and can be very fun if done correctly. I've had one of these cocktails before. When the bartender was serving it to me, he told me to wait until the fog was gone (indicating that the nitrogen had evaporated) in order to enjoy it safely. So I did, and it was frigidly delicious.

Now, two scenarios are possible here:

1) the bartender served her the drink without a warning, and she thought the fog was safe. While assuming that anything giving off a freezing fog like that would be safe to consume at that time is f**king stupid (you wouldn't slurp down steaming hot soup or eat a still-flaming creme brulee, would you?), the properties of liquid nitrogen aren't exactly common knowledge, and the bartender has an obligation to warn her. The bartender/bar should be sued for medical expenses, and he should have his bartending license revoked.

2) the bartender warned her, but she didn't listen for whatever reason, and it's her own damn fault.

Either way, if this girl hadn't of survived, she would be my darwin award nominee.

Daniel Fernandes
Daniel Fernandes

That's why I prefer beer instead of some weird cocktail made by some random barman!

Rui Pinto
Rui Pinto

Some people are just crazy...:|

Sarah Stagnell
Sarah Stagnell

This has been all over the papers here in the uk! What a silly thing and irresponsible thing for bars to do (and people to drink) all in the name of fashionable drinking silly silly silly

Kalenga Chihinga
Kalenga Chihinga

Crazy! crazy! Crazy world we live in! Hah! Wilful ignorance!

Hermes Emphasis
Hermes Emphasis

The good side is she will come down in medical history as a hero as a human guinea pig. Result of the experiment? Never drink liquid nitrogen as a beverage.

Brian Hans
Brian Hans

...saw this on reddit days ago, way to be on pace

Logan Judd
Logan Judd

And apparently putting a deadly gas into alcohol to make it look cool is legal. Awesome. "Hey, you know what would really put a kick in this drink? Carbon monoxide!"

James Tussey
James Tussey

I love the cocktail that place serves that comes with a loaded handgun as the swizzle stick.

Norrie McTavish
Norrie McTavish

Wonder if it was any good........before the whole loosing the stomach thing anyway ;-)

Ricky Ric
Ricky Ric

Intr3sting story! I lik3 it!

Dominik MJ Schachtsiek
Dominik MJ Schachtsiek

Ok - now lets be serious without this overblown revolver journalism!

There were two people, who were harmed by liquid nitrogen drinks - point taken.

How many people, died within 14 years due to alcohol itself [abuse]? How many people died, due to food poisonings? How many people died because of stupid beverage related accidents?

After all, the press carries its own responsibility of this accident- under bartenders molecular mixology was always very controversial and only very few went into it [and they were quite experienced "mixologists"; however due to the huge press echo, a lot of new bartenders [who smelled the fame], went into MM - those bartender might not have the experience and understanding of avant-garde cuisine techniques.

There are definitely some amazing applications with liquid nitrogen [a la minute ice cream], dry ice, espuma maker and fruit caviar; however you have to reflect, what makes sense and what not - and sensible bar personalities are keeping those techniques to a minimum.

Again - liquid nitrogen used properly, doesn't have any health risks [not more than French fries cooked in hot fat] - but anyway - why do you want to drink it? The "accident drink" shows already the real face of the bar - I think very few adequate bars would use Jägermeister as cocktail base...

Moe
Moe

i have some gasoline that's fun to drink as well.  want some? 

Here's some drano!  It's cool too!!!

wtgdmf are people thinking... oh wait, they dont.

stupidity:  man's #1 predator.

55saveslives
55saveslives

Liquid NITROGEN people!!!WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!! I have some cyanide gum...wanna try???

Hose_B
Hose_B

She suffered a perforated stomach similar to how Kennith Pinyan suffered a perforated colon.  

Funny thing was, he was ingesting something WAY different. 

Jean-Luc Picard
Jean-Luc Picard

If this had happened to a man it would not be reported.  The idiot that drank liquid nitrogen got what they deserved.

Blue-eyed Gal
Blue-eyed Gal

Good heavens, I feel sorry for the woman, but how on earth can people be crazy enough to consume something that's basically going to flash-freeze your stomach? Haven't they ever seen science experiments where you dip a flower or rubber ball in liquid nitrogen, then shatter it? 

I am also baffled why bars would think it a good idea to sell drinks containing a substance that could easily kill their patrons. Even if there's not a law banning it, just as there's probably not a specific law banning razorblades in hamburger, they are exposing themselves to lawsuits.

RachaelHarven
RachaelHarven

@Leigha Lewis BS  It is the bartenders job to prevent drunks from hurting theirself while inside the bar. At a bar quite often people who are well evolved drink to a point of complete stupidity.  There are novelty drinks which contain dry ice and produce a fog, but there is no contact with the actual dry ice, and she could have seen this and had a drink put in front of her while drunk and under a misbelief.  Blaming her is wrong.

Mike259
Mike259

I'm curious as to why it happened to her an not the other people that I'm sure have tried the same drink.

Leigha Lewis
Leigha Lewis

because they waited for the fog to dissipate (indicating that all the nitrogen had evaporated) like you're supposed to.