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From ‘Smoke Biscuits To Smoky Paan’, Why Are We Experimenting With Dangerous Food Trends And What Do Experts Have To Say?

Would you be willing to try out 'smoky biscuits or paan' or any other emerging trend bearing liquid nitrogen? Don't it can be outright dangerous and melt your stomach!

Liquid nitrogen or Smoky paan landed a 12-year-old from Bengaluru with a hole in her stomach and a trip to ICU; as this latest bit of ‘deadly’ news runs its course, there is but more to the ‘smoky’ story. 

The latest incident of the little girl follows days after a viral video showing a young boy swooning after tasting a ‘smoke biscuit’.

What happened, one might query, as the purported video has been doing rounds, stating that a boy lost his life after consuming what was claimed to be a ‘smoke biscuit’ made using liquid nitrogen. 

However, thankfully, as it turned out in the 12-year-old girl’s case, it was later found that the boy who swooned in the video had been saved due to timely medical intervention.

An official from the State’s Food Department told media channels that the incident in Tamil Nadu has led the government to appeal to the denizens not to consume such products. 

The government officials also urged the traders and hoteliers not to sell the ‘smoke’ laced biscuits and paan, considering the adverse effects it can have on the health of consumers.

Returning to what happened to the girl – according to her, she was intrigued by the look of the ‘smoky paan’ and wanted to try it. Was she alone? No, there were others who were trying it, and they seemed to be okay, so the girl went ahead.

However, straight after, she started to feel uneasy; this liquid nitrogen paan, even as her parents rushed her to the hospital, led to a hole in her stomach, and the doctors diagnosed her condition as perforation peritonitis.

With intra-op GD scopy and sleeve gastrectomy, the girl underwent an exploratory laparotomy measuring about 4×5 cm, and an unhealthy portion of the stomach on the lesser curvature was removed during the surgery.

Smoky Paan, Smoke Biscuits, Liquid NitrogenSo are these isolated incidents, or is a ghastly dangerous trend emerging?

Well, when the Food Department Officials in Tamil Nadu were contacted to find out whether they had taken any steps to curb the sale of such substances in the state, the officials stated that liquid nitrogen’s permitted use is to store items at sub-zero degrees Fahrenheit.

This chemical can only be used for the purpose designated under the law. It cannot be consumed in any form, and if done, it may lead to health hazards.

Parents Beware Of Smoky Paan And Smoke Biscuits

The department also said it would verify whether any of the shops or hotels offer such ‘products’ to their customers and would advise the shopkeepers on the ill-effects of using nitrogen as an edible. 

To note here, Liquid nitrogen’s temperature is minus 196 degrees Celsius. 

The official also advised parents not to allow their children to try such ‘delicacies’ and youth to stay away from ‘smoke pan’, which has recently become an attraction at some weddings.

Chennai District Food Safety Department Designated Officer P Satheesh Kumar said that they had issued an advisory on not to sell such products. “Children should not eat them. It should not be sold in the shops as well.”

However, ironically, the sources said the Food Safety Department can only issue an advisory and cannot enforce the shops from selling such products as the regulation and enforcement is vested with the Health Department, which would act on a case by case basis.

However, while Tamil Nadu has taken these steps, what about Karnataka (Bengaluru) and other states? Are they monitoring the possibility of such?

And should’nt, the Health Department step in?

What have experts got to say?

Doctors explain the chemical trait of liquid nitrogen. They say that the naturally available gas is put through an industrial process, resulting in the production of liquid nitrogen. Its temperature will be minus 196 °C (minus 320 °F).

Therefore, according to them, it can definitely harm any person who is exposed to it. It will instantly freeze whatever it comes into contact with. The liquid’s touch can freeze any part of our human body, and the exposed part may break into pieces.

That is just utterly scary and dreadful, even to imagine!

What is the science behind it?

According to the Utah State University, exposure to liquid nitrogen can result in extensive tissue damage or burns can result from exposure to liquid nitrogen or cold nitrogen vapours.

Being odourless, colourless, tasteless, and non-irritating, nitrogen has no warning properties. Humans possess no senses that can detect the presence of nitrogen, it warned.

Although nitrogen is non-toxic and inert, it can act as a simple asphyxiant by displacing oxygen in air to levels below that required to support life. Inhalation of nitrogen in excessive amounts can cause dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness, and death.

What if someone disregards all caution and still wants to take liberty with their health and safety?

By Indian laws, the liquified gas can be used in the food segment and in the industrial categories. Can this be allowed in the food industry? No. It is not good for our health.

Referring to the video, the doctor said that one could see something in liquid form being added to the biscuit. “The persons in the video were seen taking and then blowing the smoke, in a glamorous way,” he said.

As long as the liquid nitrogen completely evaporates, then it is completely fine. 

However, if a slight drop of it touches any layer of the body, then it would lead to frostbite. The contact will induce a sharp pain as it would interact with the central nervous system, and will have a cascading effect.

The doctor suggested that one has to exercise caution while consuming it, especially if those were taken by children.

He said the parents will have to ensure that there is no liquid left when it is served to the children. “If the parents are careful and the liquid has changed its state to vapour, then there is nothing to worry,” he added.

The Last Bit, considering the utter lethargy and negligence that plague the respective authorities in our country, it is safe to say that the responsibility falls on the parents and to educate and create awareness amongst the general populace NOT to try this latest fad!

They say that the 'pen is mightier than the sword'; I believe definitely so! Today news is delivered at breakneck speed, but what makes news articles different from one source to another? It is the way it is delivered-facts, research, the point of view with the correct amount of panache, the X factor! Writing is my chosen profession after 15 years in the corporate sector, and I strive to tick every box even as I am grateful to my readers for their precious time and patronage!


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