09/10/2012 11:23 BST | Updated 09/10/2012 13:48 BST

NUS Issues Liquid Nitrogen Cocktails Warning After Teenager Gaby Scanlon Has Stomach Removed

Students have been urged to take caution when drinking liquid nitrogen cocktails after a teenager had part of her stomach removed as a result of drinking the chemical.

The National Union of Students (NUS) issued the warning on Tuesday, telling students: "If you have any concerns about any drinks you buy do not drink them.

"Following an incident where someone was severely injured after drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen, NUS urges caution when trying such drinks."

Teenager Gabby Scanlon had been out celebrating her 18th birthday with friends when she developed severe stomach pain after drinking the alcohol mixture.

gaby scanlon

Emergency operation: Gaby Scanlon

Although the bar where Gabby bought the drink has stopped selling cocktails with the chemical in, there are thousands of other establishments where liquid nitrogen cocktails are served.

According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), who has also issued a warning, the chemical is not a toxic substance, although it is not safe to drink or eat.

Liquid nitrogen is used to quickly chill or freeze food. It's extreme cold temperature makes it unsafe to consume because the human body is unable to cope with such a cold internal temperature.


The FSA's head of incident manager Colin Houston said: "It is the business owner’s responsibility to make sure that their staff have been trained and are aware of the potential risks of using liquid nitrogen. They also have to have appropriate safety measures in place to protect both their staff and consumers.

"We’re working with other departments and agencies to investigate the issue and whether we need to take any further action."

The chemical reaches temperatures of -196C and if it is not used properly, can cause frostbite or cryogenic burns.

liquid nitrogen

Liquid nitrogen can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly

Professor Peter Barham, of the University of Bristol’s School of Physics, said it is possible to use liquid nitrogen safely but it must never be drunk.

"As with any very hot or very cold liquid proper safety measures must be taken – 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."

Other drinks to approach with caution include Everclear, which can be up to 95% alcohol by volume (ABV), Devil Springs vodka, 80% ABV, and Bacardi 151, 75% ABV.

DrinkAware advice for students

For more advice on drinking, visit DrinkAware.