Indonesia is warning people not to consume liquid nitrogen after more than 20 children were harmed while eating a street food known as “dragon’s breath”, which is at the center of a dangerous new viral video trend.
Children suffered skin burns, severe stomach pains and food poisoning after consuming the colored candies, according to the Indonesian Ministry of Health, which urged parents, teachers and local health officials to be vigilant.
Candies are soaked in liquid nitrogen to create a steam effect when eaten. Dozens of short-form video apps are popular with kids who have uploaded clips on TikTok showing them blowing smoke out of their mouth, nose, and ears. A video showing a street vendor preparing a snack has been viewed close to 10 million times.
Maxi Rein Rondonuwu, director-general of the ministry, said about 25 children, including two who were hospitalized, were injured while consuming the candies. No deaths were reported.
It is not illegal to use liquid nitrogen in food preparation. Top chefs often use steam to create theatrical effects when serving food. It is clear, colorless and odorless and is often used in medical settings and as an ingredient for freezing foods.
However, it can be dangerous if not used properly.
“Liquid nitrogen is not only dangerous when consumed, it can cause severe breathing difficulties due to prolonged inhalation of nitrogen fumes,” Maxi said.
The first case was reported in July 2022, when a boy from a village in Ponorogo Regency in East Java suffered cold burns on his skin after eating the snack, according to the ministry.
More cases were reported in November and December, including a 4-year-old boy who was hospitalized in the capital, Jakarta, with severe stomach pain.
“Schools should educate children in the community about the dangers of liquid nitrogen in food to prevent further cases of severe food poisoning,” Maxi said.
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published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018. security alerts He warned that eating foods such as ice cream, cereal or cocktails made with liquid nitrogen could result in serious injury.
“Injuries have occurred from handling or eating products prepared by adding liquid nitrogen just before consumption, even after the liquid nitrogen has completely evaporated due to the extremely low temperature of the food,” the FDA said.
“This is a dangerous chemical compound,” said Clarence Yeo, a Singapore-based physician. “Irritating to the stomach and can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus. Children are particularly susceptible if large amounts are eaten (the effects).”
Yeo cautioned that he would “not advise anyone to eat it.”
“You could go to the hospital and the worst-case scenario could be organ damage,” he said.
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