Indian Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Harsh Vardhan, has announced that the government will investigate the issue of restaurants serving food and drinks embellished with liquid nitrogen.
The assurance came after a member raised the issue following an incident in July, when a man reportedly drank a cocktail with liquid nitrogen at a Gurgaon pub that burnt a hole in his stomach. The Haryana government subsequently banned the use of liquid nitrogen in drinks and food.
Liquid nitrogen, which has a boiling point of -195.8°C, is widely used by molecular gastronomy chefs to instantly freeze food and drinks. As it evaporates, liquid nitrogen freezes everything around it, including tissues that come into contact with it.
Experts and industrial gas safety specialists argue, however, that food and drinks prepared with liquid nitrogen should be consumed only after all the gas has bubbled off.
There was a similar high profile case back in 2012 in the UK which saw a Lancashire woman have her stomach removed in a life-saving operation after drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen at a bar in Lancaster. At the time, the British Compressed Gases Association (BCGA) called for a blanket ban on the use of the substance in drinks. Doug Thornton, Chief Executive, said back then, “Bars and restaurants have been offering ‘fogging’ drinks for some years, espeically in the run-up to Halloween and Christmas, but we’d strongly urge them to stop ans think again.”
“The best rule is to not use liquid nitrogen at all in drinks. To do so is reckless. It’s just endangering people for no good reason.”
“We are also concerned that bar staff should not be exposed to the risk of cryogenic burns in handling the liquid gas. Nobody should handle liquid nitrogen without appropriate training and personal protective equipment.”