Liquid nitrogen paan puts hole in 12-year-old’s stomach, surgery done

Liquid nitrogen poses significant health risks and when it evaporates in an enclosed space, it generates a tremendous amount of force.
 Image used for representational purpose
Image used for representational purpose

BENGALURU: In a reminder of the hidden dangers behind trendy foods, a 12-year-old girl was hospitalised in HSR Layout after consuming a liquid nitrogen-infused paan at a wedding reception in Bengaluru recently. The hospital diagnosed her condition as perforation peritonitis — a hole in the stomach.

The patient underwent an exploratory laparotomy with intraoperative OGD scopy, where an endoscope was used to examine the oesophagus, stomach and duodenum. During the surgery, an unhealthy patch measuring approximately 4x5 cm was found on the lesser curvature of the stomach. A sleeve gastrectomy was performed and a portion of the stomach was removed. Following the surgery, the patient was admitted for two days in the ICU and was discharged after a six-day stay at the hospital.

Dr Vijay HS, Operating Surgeon, Surgical Gastroenterology, at Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, said multiple such cases have been reported from various parts of the country and it is crucial to take these isolated incidents seriously before they become a pattern. They point to inherent risks associated with experimental culinary practices and the need for safety measures.

Liquid nitrogen poses significant health risks and when it evaporates in an enclosed space, it generates a tremendous amount of force. This volatile substance can damage the skin and pose severe health threats to chefs and other food handlers. Inhaling the vapours can cause breathing difficulties, and there have been reports of tissue damage due to the hazardous nature of liquid nitrogen, a health expert explained.

No ban on liquid nitrogen in Karnataka yet

In April, the Tamil Nadu health department issued an order stating that the liquid nitrogen must be entirely evaporated from food or beverages before serving. The directive was issued after a boy reportedly suffered a severe stomach pain and developed complications after consuming “smoke biscuits” at an exhibition in Davangere. While a senior official from the Karnataka health department had earlier told TNIE that the department has asked the food safety officers to take action on such misuse if found, as per Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the department is yet to officially issue a detailed directive on the usage of liquid nitrogen.

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