’Special’ paan at wedding leaves a hole in young girl’s stomach; why is liquid nitrogen dangerous in food?

US FDA had warned against adding liquid nitrogen to food 'just before consumption'.

Written By Arshdeep kaur
Updated22 May 2024
The 12-year-old had two days of ICU stay post-surgery and was discharged for recovery at home after six days.
The 12-year-old had two days of ICU stay post-surgery and was discharged for recovery at home after six days.(Zomato)

A 12-year-old girl who consumed a seemingly harmless liquid nitrogen-infused "smoky paan" landed on the operation table after doctors observed a hole in her stomach.

According to the Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, the girl had consumed 'smoky paan' at a wedding reception in Bengaluru.

She was diagnosed with a hole in her stomach (perforation peritonitis), the hospital said in a statement, adding that it necessitated an emergency surgical intervention to prevent further complications.

Also read: Indians spend much more on paan, tobacco and liquor now than they did 10 years ago: Govt

The patient underwent exploratory laparotomy with intraoperative endoscopy (Intra-op OGD scopy), and sleeve gastrectomy was swiftly conducted to address the critical condition, it said. 

"Intra-op OGD scopy- a procedure, where an endoscope, a flexible tube with a camera and light, is used during surgery to examine the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum-the first part of the small intestine," Dr Vijay H S, who headed the team of doctors operating on the girl was quoted as saying by the hospital. 

The hospital also said an unhealthy patch of about 4x5 cm on the lesser curvature of the stomach was taken care of with sleeve resection (a part of the stomach was removed). 

Also read: 5 vomit blood after having dry ice mixed mouth freshener

The 12-year-old had two days of ICU stay post-surgery and was discharged for recovery at home after six days.

Why is liquid nitrogen dangerous in food?

Liquid nitrogen can be dangerous in food due to its extremely cold temperature. Direct contact can cause frostbite-like injuries, and inhaling the vapour can lead to breathing difficulties. 

Also read: Over 50 students hospitalised in Pune's Khed due to food poisoning

The US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) warns against adding liquid nitrogen to food “just before consumption”. Proper handling and precautions are crucial to avoid health hazards.

Health experts told Times Now that although liquid nitrogen is "non-toxic and inert", it can act as an asphyxiant by displacing oxygen in the air to below required levels. Extreme levels may also cause loss of consciousness, vomiting, dizziness, and even death.

(With PTI inputs)

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