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Warning to Parents: Avoid Eating, Drinking or Handling Food Products Prepared with Liquid Nitrogen

Dragon’s Breath among products dangerous to children, especially kids with asthma

“Dragon’s Breath. “Heaven’s Breath.” “Nitro puff.”

Sounds fun, right?

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has sent out an alert of the “potential for serious injury from eating, drinking, or handling products prepared by adding liquid nitrogen at the point of sale, immediately before consumption.”

If you aren’t familiar with the product’s names, you’ve probably seen them at malls, food courts, kiosks, state or local fairs, and other food retailers. They are food and drinks prepared by adding liquid nitrogen immediately before consumption. The products may include liquid nitrogen-infused colorful cereal or cheese puffs that releases a misty or smoke-like vapor.

The concern is that the liquid nitrogen, although non-toxic, can cause severe damage to skin and internal organs if mishandled or accidently ingested due to the extremely low temperatures it can maintain. The alert from the FDA advises consumers to avoid eating, drinking or handling foods prepared using liquid nitrogen at point of sale and immediately before consumption, due to injury.

A particular worry is for people asthma patients. The FDA says “inhaling the vapor released by a food or drink prepared by adding liquid nitrogen immediately before consumption may also cause breathing difficulty.”

The FDA stated that the organization is aware of severe – and in some cases, life-threatening – injuries, such as damage to skin and internal organs caused by liquid nitrogen still present in the food or drink.

Karen Schultz, M.D., medical director of Pulmonology at Cook Children’s, said this warning is definitely a concern for young asthma patients.

“Inhaling cold air is a known trigger for asthma and, in fact, is used to help determine if someone has asthma (called a ‘cold air challenge’)," Dr. Schultz said.

Worsening signs of asthma include breathing that is hard and fast, trouble talking or walking, inability to work or play, constant coughing, or a color change in the lips and/or nail beds. At this point, rescue medications should be given and the family should seek immediate care.

"General signs of initial worsening of asthma include some difficulty breathing, coughing and wheezing, problems working or playing, or waking up at night coughing," Dr. Schultz said. "At this point families should start using their rescue medications as instructed by their physician. Families should call their physician if their child has required three extra treatments in a 24 hour periods or they need them more frequently than every four hours."

Consumers who have experienced an injury because of handling or eating products prepared with liquid nitrogen at the point of sale, immediately before consumption, should consult their healthcare professional. Consumers should also consider reporting their injury to MedWatch. The FDA encourages consumers with questions about food safety to Submit An Inquiry, or to visit for additional information.

* Photo Courtesy of the Food and Drug Administration. Read Alert from FDA.

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Get to know Karen Schultz, M.D.

"Choosing pediatric pulmonology means I get to practice the medicine of my choice and interact with children and their families. Here at Cook Children's, the emphasis on the whole family, so I get to follow the children I treat over a long period as they grow and develop. In my free time, I'm usually spending time with my husband and children.​"

The Cook Children's Pulmonary team diagnoses, evaluates, treats, and develops management plans for patients with lung and respiratory diagnoses. Click to learn more.


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