Gaby Scanlon, a teenager from Lancashire, England, was out celebrating her 18th birthday on Thursday when she started feeling sick. She became breathless and had severe pain in her stomach. After being taken to a hospital, Scanlon was diagnosed with a perforated stomach. She needed to have emergency surgery to have her stomach removed because she drank a liquid nitrogen cocktail at a bar.
According to police, Scanlon would have died if the doctors had not performed a total gastrectomy. Scanlon is in serious but stable condition as of Monday. According to the Telegraph, Scanlon suffered a reaction to the drink she had, which was a “correctly prepared Jagermeister drink made with liquid nitrogen.”
It is not uncommon for liquid nitrogen to be added to drinks or food, which causes a cauldron appearance. Ever since Scanlon had her emergency surgery, the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency issued a warning to consumers that said, “take care when drinking cocktails made with this substance.”
“Liquid nitrogen is the harmless gas nitrogen which has been cooled to such a low temperature that it becomes a liquid,” said Professor Peter Barham of the University of Bristol’s School of Physics. “It is intensely cold (-196C or −321F) and if not used properly can cause frostbite or cryogenic burns. 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.”
The bar that served Scanlon the drink has stopped selling drinks with liquid nitrogen for the time being while the investigation continues. Paul Aitchison, the Lancaster City Council Licensing Committee Chairman, said he visited the bar a couple of months back and had the ‘Nitro Jagermeister.’
“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.”