Nitrogen cocktail drinker's stomach removed

Last updated 11:46 09/10/2012
Fairfax Australia

A British teen's 18th birthday celebration almost turned deadly after she drank a dangerous mix containing liquid nitrogen.

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Authorities say a British teen has had her stomach removed after she ingested a cocktail prepared with liquid nitrogen, an exotic ingredient often used by bartenders to add a touch of drama to their drinks.

British media say 18-year-old Gaby Scanlon was out with her friends Thursday night in the northern England city of Lancaster when she was hospitalised after having a drink prepared with liquid nitrogen, a super-cooled version of the harmless gas.

Liquid nitrogen evaporates rapidly at room temperature, creating a cauldron effect as water condenses around the glass.

It's not clear how exactly Scanlon managed to ingest the liquid — local police have said they're investigating — but public health officials say it's time to take a second look at its use in bars.

The bar is not thought to have made an error in preparing the drink but The Telegraph newspaper quoted Professor Peter Barham, of the University of Bristol's School of Physics stressing the proper use of liquid nitrogen.

The temperature of the liquid is around -196C and if it is not used properly it can cause frostbite or cryogenic burns, he warned.

"As with any very hot or very cold liquid proper safety measures must be taken,'' he told The Telegraph. ''Just as no-one would drink boiling water or oil or pour it over themselves, so no-one should ingest liquid nitrogen.

"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.''

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- Reuters

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