Warning: Trendy ‘nitro’ treats may cause injury

By Julie Jordan
Published September 5, 2018

It looks like candy with a vapor emitting from it. It is sometimes sold in shopping malls. When you eat it, it may appear as if you’re blowing smoke. It’s commonly called, “Dragon breath,” “Heaven’s breath,” or “nitro puff.”

What is it?

“Liquid nitrogen is used with food in many ways,” said Galen Baxter, food service program director. “Commonly, it is used in trendy alcoholic drinks or desserts, such as ‘Dragon’s Breath’ or ‘nitro-puff,’ where the liquid nitrogen is poured over a cup full of sweetened cereal puffs. The puffs emit a misty vapor, and the consumer eats the individual puffs with chopsticks and blows the vapor out of his or her nose like a dragon.”

Although it seems like fun, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that when liquid nitrogen is consumed before it has evaporated completely, it can cause severe damage to skin and internal organs if mishandled or accidentally ingested, as liquid nitrogen maintains extremely low temperatures.

And these foggy food products are available in Georgia. For example, some ice cream establishments use liquid nitrogen. The Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote about Atlanta foods and beverages made using liquid nitrogen like beer, coffee and milkshakes.

Before you jump on the bandwagon, consider the FDA-issued safety alert “advising consumers to avoid eating, drinking, or handling foods prepared using liquid nitrogen at point of sale and immediately before consumption, due to risk of injury.”  

Injuries from these food products include:  

  • damage to skin and internal organs caused by liquid nitrogen still present in the food or drink.
  • difficulty breathing after inhaling the vapor released by liquid nitrogen when added immediately before consumption.

However, the FDA indicates that foods treated with liquid nitrogen in such a way that results in the complete evaporation of liquid nitrogen before reaching the consumer and are no longer at an extremely low temperature, do not pose a significant risk of injury.

If you have experienced an injury because of a liquid nitrogen product, please contact your healthcare provider. For answers to questions about food safety, visit www.fda.gov/fcic.