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York bar ditches liquid nitrogen cocktail
A YORK bar has suspended sales of a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen after a teenager needed surgery to remove her stomach, having drunk a similar cocktail at a sister bar in Lancashire.
Gaby Scanlon, 18, began feeling breathless after consuming the drink on a night out with friends at Lancaster’s Oscars wine bar, whose owners also run bars in York.
She then developed severe stomach pain and was taken to Lancaster Royal Infirmary, where medics diagnosed a perforated stomach and were forced to perform emergency surgery to remove the organ.
The girl, from Heysham, remains in hospital in a serious but stable condition, said a spokesman for the Lancashire Constabulary, which has launched an investigation.
The Lancaster bar is owned by Oscars Wine Bar Ltd Lancaster, which said in a statement: “This unfortunate incident is part of an ongoing police investigation and as such we can not make any comments other than to say that we are tremendously concerned for the person involved and our heartfelt best wishes go to them and their family at this distressing time.”
Andrew and Sally Dunn, who are respectively director and secretary of the company, also own Oscars wine bar and bistro and the Biltmore bar and grill in Swinegate, York.
The Press reported in February that the Biltmore had launched nitro cocktails, with liquid nitrogen – starting off at minus 193 degrees – being poured into glasses and reacting with oxygen to give a smoking cauldron effect. Staff were reported to have been specially trained and fully certified to handle the chemical.
The nitro cocktails were still on menus outside the Biltmore yesterday but staff said they were not being served until further notice, after “something had happened elsewhere.”
City of York Council said licensing staff had visited and been told this as well, and said they were not aware of any other bar in York which sold such cocktails.
In Lancaster, a number of witnesses at Oscars are being interviewed by police and the licensed premises has stopped selling drinks containing the chemical.
A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: “Medical opinion is that this would have proved fatal had the operation not been carried out urgently.
“The investigation is still in its early stages and we are still interviewing witnesses to establish the full facts.
“The premises involved have fully co-operated with all agencies and have suspended drinks involving liquid nitrogen.”
Lancaster City Council said that as a precaution, and with the full cooperation of the premises’ owners, the authority formally prohibited the bar from serving drinks containing liquid nitrogen using powers under the Health & Safety at Work Act.
It said it also took possession of the liquid nitrogen equipment on the premises and later expected to take over the lead role in investigating what happened and whether offences were committed.
Use of liquid nitrogen
LIQUID nitrogen has been increasingly used in cooking to make food including ice cream.
In cocktails it is usually used to freeze ingredients, to chill glasses or as a visual gimmick.
But if swallowed, it can cause cold burns to the mouth, throat and stomach, killing the tissue and as the frozen vapour hits the stomach, it rapidly warms, releasing large volumes of air which can burst the stomach.
Liquid nitrogen is also sometimes used in medicine, for example to remove unwanted skin, warts and pre-cancerous cells.