Research In Action

Research In Action

dangerous trend liquid nitrogen
Dangerous Trend: Liquid Nitrogen and Food

As the holiday season ramps up and folks are spending more time at the malls across the country, beware of a new food trend that can come with health risks.

A new novel snack involves dipping dessert morsels into liquid nitrogen right before consumption, which creates a smoky effect as the dessert is ingested (wherein the customer can "breathe" smoke out of their mouth and nostrils like a dragon). 

While these special effects can seem attractive (with some YouTube videos of the effect gaining over a million views), they can be dangerous. Liquid nitrogen is incredibly cold, ranging from minus 196 degrees to minus 320 degrees and can cause burns if still present in the food. Burns can occur not only to fingers when handling the food, but also to the mouth/esophagus as the food is ingested. A significant injury has already been reported in a teenage customer. In addition to burns, the vapor from the liquid nitrogen can potentially cause breathing difficulties.

As a result of these risks, the FDA has issued a warning about "adding liquid nitrogen to food at the point of sale" or right before consumption, as liquid nitrogen can remain present in the food at the time of ingestion. Liquid nitrogen that has been added during the preparation of food before the point of sale does not carry the same risks, since the liquid nitrogen would have fully evaporated by the time the customer consumes it. For more information, click here