Bars told to nix the nitrogen

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Bars and clubs in North Lanarkshire are being warned not to add liquid nitrogen to cocktails.

Environmental Health Officers from North Lanarkshire Council are visiting certain licensed premises who may be likely to sell this type of cocktail to advise them of the dangers of adding the chemical to drinks.

Their action follows an incident in Lancashire when an 18-year-old girl underwent life-saving surgery for a perforated stomach after drinking a cocktail which contained liquid nitrogen.

Councillor Michael McPake, vice-convener of the environmental services committee, said: “This was a shocking incident in Lancaster and I am relieved to hear that the young woman is recovering.

“Apparently liquid nitrogen is used in cocktails to chill glasses, freeze ingredients or as a visual gimmick, making them appear to foam, but this is dangerous practice and we are taking steps to make sure local bars and clubs are fully aware of the risks.

“Our officers will be talking to licence holders across the area to ask them to ensure liquid nitrogen is not used in any drinks. Warning letters are also being sent to all premises that may provide cocktails advising of the danger.

“We would also advise members of the public to be aware of what is in alcoholic drinks, particularly cocktails being made to order, and to avoid any that appear to be foaming.”

If swallowed, liquid nitrogen can cause severe cold burns to the mouth, throat and stomach, killing the tissue.

As the frozen vapour hits the stomach it rapidly warms, releasing large volumes of air which can burst the stomach.