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Bar fined for liquid nitrogen drink that destroyed teen's stomach

A British court has ordered a fine of £100,000 (about $156,000) for a bar that served "Nitro-Jagermeister" cocktails made with liquid nitrogen that led to emergency stomach surgery for an 18-year-old woman. The bar pleaded guilty to endangering customers' safety with the dramatic-looking "smoking" shots.

"Immediately on consuming the drink she was taken violently ill, retching and vomiting and smoking from her nose and mouth," prosecutor Barry Berlin said, according to a report in The Guardian. "The liquid nitrogen itself is a dangerous product."

Gaby Scanlon, the young British woman who drank the cocktail while celebrating her 18th birthday in 2012, ended up needing her stomach surgically removed.

She ingested the chemical because it was not allowed to evaporate off before the cocktails were served. She was rushed to the hospital where doctors found a hole in her stomach and said they had no choice but to remove the whole organ and part of her small bowel, connected to the esophagus, in order to save her life. She said she continues to have pain.

"When the drink was served, "I turned to the man and asked if it was OK to drink. He said 'yes,'" Scanlon told the court, according to The Guardian. "Smoke was coming from my nose and mouth. Straight away I knew something was not right. My stomach expanded. The manager said nothing about waiting for it to die down."

File photo of cocktail "smoking" from liquid nitrogen. istockphoto

Liquid nitrogen is used in many culinary preparations from cocktails to ice cream to elaborate garnishes and sauces, as part of the growing field of molecular gastronomy. When used properly, all of the liquid should be evaporated from glasses or food products before a drink or dish is consumed. The chemical is dangerous when swallowed -- it can freeze items quickly and also heats up quickly, becoming a gas, both of which are dangerous to internal organs.

The owner of Oscar's Wine Bar and Bistro in Lancaster, England, instructed his staff to create the smoking liquid nitrogen cocktails after he'd seen the impressive-looking, foggy cocktails at a competitor's bar. But the instructions on how to safely serve it were scant and the staff did not heed a health inspector's warning about the dangers of the chemical and how to carefully handle it, prior to that night.

The judge in the case said the bar had been too cavalier and failed to follow the warnings and advice about serving the cool-looking but potentially deadly cocktail.

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