Doctors and other health authorities are warning the public about “Dragon Breath” snacks – a recent craze of snacks dipped in super-cold liquid nitrogen – saying the novelties are causing burn injuries and asthma-like symptoms in some people, especially among children.
Kiosks have sprung up in malls and fairs across the country offering Dragon Breath snacks that appeal mostly to kids. The liquid nitrogen in which the snacks are dipped has an exceptionally low boiling point of minus 320 degrees Farenheit. At room temperature, the liquid nitrogen on the snacks vaporizes. When consumed, the vapor resembles smoke that emits from the nose and mouth like a dragon.
According to the North Jersey Record, one New Jersey health official said that injuries caused by the Dragon Breath products are rising alongside their popularity. At least six cases of injury and illness, such as burn injuries to the mouth and throat and asthma-like symptoms, have been reported statewide to date, Dr. Diane Calello, medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center, told the North Jersey Record.
“What’s really happening here is the liquid nitrogen gets the food so cold that it causes a frostbite-like injury anywhere it touches,” Dr. Calello told the Record. She explained that Dragon Breath snacks can be dangerous because they are served straight from the nitrogen tank. Other foods that are flash frozen in liquid nitrogen and then sold in supermarkets, such as Dippin’ Dots, do not pose a risk of injury or illness.
On Aug. 30, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public “to avoid eating, drinking, or handling food products prepared with liquid nitrogen at the point of sale.”
“Liquid nitrogen, although non-toxic, can cause severe damage to skin and internal organs if mishandled or accidentally ingested due to the extremely low temperatures it can maintain. Inhaling the vapor released by a food or drink prepared by adding liquid nitrogen immediately before consumption may also cause breathing difficulty, especially among individuals with asthma,” the FDA’s advisory states.
The agency said it is aware of several injuries related to Dragon Breath products, including some cases of severe and life-threatening injuries.
Dragon Breath products are also marketed and sold as “Heaven’s Breath,” “nitro puff,” and other similar names.
The FDA urges any consumer who has been injured by the liquid nitrogen treats to consider reporting their injury on its MedWatch portal.