On August 30, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers and retailers of the risk of serious injury from the consumption or handling of food and drink products where liquid nitrogen is added at the point of sale (View the FDA alert). These products are often marketed with the names “Dragon’s Breath,” “Heaven’s Breath,” and “nitro puff” among other similar monikers.
Food and drink items prepared by adding liquid nitrogen immediately before consumption are increasingly being made available in food courts, kiosks, state or local fairs, and other retail locations. When infused or added to food and beverages, the products will emit a misty or smoke-like vapor. Although liquid nitrogen is non-toxic, if mishandled or accidentally ingested in sufficient quantities, it can cause damage to the skin and organs due to the extremely low temperatures it can maintain. Inhaling liquid nitrogen vapors may also cause breathing difficulties, particularly in asthmatics.
There have been at least two lawsuits filed over injuries allegedly due to liquid nitrogen in food. A California man claims he sustained “severe bilateral burn marks” from the extreme cold of the liquid nitrogen in the two “Dragon’s Breath” ice cream products he purchased at a Chocolate Chair establishment. Similarly, a South Carolina man claims he sustained a severe mouth ulceration that made it impossible for him to consume food for several weeks, after consuming liquid nitrogen-soaked cereal at a “Dragon’s Breath” kiosk in a mall. Copies of the California complaint can be found here and the South Carolina complaint can be found here.
We will continue to monitor and report on the developments in this unique area of food and beverage law.