Like TN, Karnataka too may ban liquid nitrogen

Karnataka may follow Tamil Nadu in banning liquid nitrogen use with food after a boy fell ill from consuming "smoke biscuits".
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.

BENGALURU: After Tamil Nadu, Karnataka too is likely to issue an order for action against any food business operator using liquid nitrogen for direct consumption along with food items like biscuits and ice-creams.

The Tamil Nadu health department’s order issued on April 25 states that liquid nitrogen should be completely evaporated before a food item or beverage is served. The directive was issued after a boy reportedly developed complications after consuming “smoke biscuits” at an exhibition at Davanagere in Karnataka. A social media user had posted a video of the boy eating smoke biscuits and experiencing a severe discomfort. The boy was immediately taken to a hospital.

Health and Family Welfare Commissioner Randeep D told TNIE, “The department has asked food safety officers to take action if such instances are found, as per the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.” The health department, however, is yet to officially issue a detailed directive on the use of liquid nitrogen.

Emphasising the need for regulating the use of liquid nitrogen in foods and drinks, Edwina Raj, Head of Services - Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, Aster CMI Hospital, said liquid nitrogen is a colourless and odourless form of nitrogen that exists at its lowest temperature and is used to create a dramatic smoking effect.

“Liquid nitrogen, with its boiling point at -196 degrees Celsius, is exceptionally cold and can freeze tissues, leading to asphyxia by cutting off oxygen supply to tissues. This happens when elevated levels of nitrogen are dissolved in the bloodstream, particularly under pressure, as in scuba diving or when ingesting foods treated with liquid nitrogen,” Edwina Raj said.

“Mishandling or accidental ingestion of liquid nitrogen can result in severe damage to both the skin and internal organs due to its extremely low temperatures,” she highlighted.

She explained that the liquid nitrogen vapour can rapidly freeze skin tissues upon contact. If ingested, even small amounts can lead to serious health complications. Its expansion in the stomach can cause tissue damage with potential fatal consequences. Inhaling the vapour released by a food or drink prepared with liquid nitrogen, particularly just before consumption, can potentially lead to breathing difficulties.

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