A British teenager had to undergo emergency surgery last week to get her stomach removed after she drank a liquid nitrogen cocktail at a wine bar.
According to the Guardian, Gaby Scanlon from Lancashire, England, was celebrating her 18th birthday last Thursday when she began to feel sick, “becoming breathless and developing severe stomach pain.” The teen was taken to the hospital, where she was “diagnosed with a perforated stomach.”
Doctors operated immediately, and Scanlon’s stomach was removed. Police say she would have died had surgeons not performed the total gastrectomy, the BBC reports.
As of Monday afternoon, Scanlon is said to be in serious, but stable condition. The BBC explains:
People who have had a gastrectomy will still be able to lead a normal life and eat and drink regular food but they will need to eat smaller amounts and take vitamin supplements to make sure they get enough nourishment.
The teenager is thought to have suffered an adverse reaction from consuming a “correctly prepared Jagermeister drink made with liquid nitrogen,” the Telegraph writes.
Adding liquid nitrogen, which creates a steaming “cauldron effect,” to drinks or food is not an uncommon practice. However, since Scanlon’s emergency surgery, the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency has issued a warning, telling consumers to “take care when drinking cocktails made with this substance,” ITV reports.
“Liquid nitrogen is the harmless gas nitrogen which has been cooled to such a low temperature that it becomes a liquid,” Professor Peter Barham of the University of Bristol’s School of Physics told The Huffington Post UK. “It is intensely cold (-196C or −321F) and if not used properly can cause frostbite or cryogenic burns.”
Barham stressed, however, that it is possible to use liquid nitrogen safely.
“Liquid nitrogen can be used safely in the preparation of foods. However, since it is not safe to ingest liquid nitrogen due care must be taken to ensure that the liquid has all evaporated before serving any food or drink that was prepared with liquid nitrogen,” he said.
Dr. John Ashton, director of public health for the county of Cumbria, told the BBC that Scanlon is “the victim of an irresponsible alcohol industry that’s now competing on gimmicks.”
Police say the bar that served the steaming cocktail to the teen has suspended the sale of drinks involving liquid nitrogen and is cooperating with them as an investigation is conducted.
Lancaster City Council’s Licensing Committee chairman Paul Aitchison told ITV that he was at the same bar as Scanlon a few months ago and tried the “Nitro Jagermeister” drink himself.
“I heard about this story this morning and I was quite shocked because I have actually tried it myself. It was quite scary to think that it could have possibly happened to me,” he said. “I thought it sounded interesting, that’s probably one of the draws. You assume the drinks served in licensed premises will be safe.”