Liquid nitrogen in food not dangerous, says health DG

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PETALING JAYA: Liquid nitrogen used in food preparation is not dangerous if handled properly, says the health ministry in response to the alleged dangers posed by Dragon Breath cookies.

The ministry’s director-general, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, said that while liquid nitrogen had been widely used in the food industry, it should be avoided if the liquid was not fully evaporated.

“Liquid nitrogen is also used for the flash freezing of certain foods, including biscuits, to give them a fog-like texture that is a novelty for consumers.

“The ministry, however, insisted that liquid nitrogen should only be used at an appropriate level to freeze products,” he said in a statement today.

Noor Hisham added that, generally, after a food product was frozen, liquid nitrogen would evaporate instead of remain in the finished products.

Hence, there was no issue over the safety of food prepared using the liquid, he said.

“(But) for the purpose of consumers’ safety, food producers that are using the liquid should ensure it was fully evaporated before selling the products to consumers.

“This is to avoid cryogenic burns or frostbite.”

The New Straits Times today reported that the Dragon Breath cookies, which allow consumers the experience of exhaling smoke from their noses and mouths, had turned out to be more harmful than fun.

This was after 15-year-old Mohd Aiman Mohd Ridwan was left with painful burns and blisters on his palm after coming into direct contact with the liquid nitrogen used in Dragon Breath cookies.

Describing the burning sensation he experienced as like boiling water on his palm, Aiman applied some ointment on the area quickly, only to wake up the next morning to ugly blisters on his swollen palm, the English daily reported.

Consumers Association of Kedah (CAKE) secretary Mohd Yusrizal Yusoff said the association had received five complaints so far and had forwarded the cases to the Kedah Health Department for further investigations.

“Initial investigations have shown that the liquid nitrogen used to prepare the cookies is not suitable for consumption as it could cause side effects,” he said.