Time Could Be Running Out for Liquid-Nitrogen Dragon’s Breath in NJ
At least one New Jersey merchant plans to cut ties with "Dragon's Breath" following safety warnings from the federal government and health experts at the state level.
Antoinette Conville, owner of The Beach Bucket Bling Cafe on the Wildwood boardwalk, said her two locations will likely pull the liquid-nitrogen puffs from their food and drink lineup.
The product has not caused a safety issue for the business, but Conville said it's not worth the potential trouble.
An alert on Aug. 30 from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration advised consumers and retailers of the potential for serious injury from eating, drinking or handling food products prepared with liquid nitrogen at the point of sale.
By design, the infused cereal balls or cheese puffs interact with the warmth of a customer's mouth, creating a visible vapor out of one's mouth or nose, resembling a dragon. The snacks are marketed under several names such as Dragon's Breath, Heaven's Breath and Nitro Puff.
Although liquid nitrogen is non-toxic, the FDA warns, its extremely low temperatures can cause severe damage to skin or internal organs.
"This safety alert advises consumers to avoid eating, drinking, or handling foods prepared using liquid nitrogen at point of sale and immediately before consumption, due to risk of injury," the FDA said.
The New Jersey Poison Control Center has been consulted for several cases related to liquid nitrogen exposure. In their most recent case, a female required evaluation in a hospital emergency room after ingesting two Dragon's Breath puffs.
"I don't think the owners of these stores realize the potential dangers that these people are in when they use it, especially if explicit instructions are not followed," said Bruce Ruck, the center's managing director.
Conville said her business — like many others on the city's boardwalk — received clearance from the county health department to serve the product. A warning sign is posted at both locations, noting the proper way to consume the product, and it's not given to young children without a parent present.
The snacks are to be handled using a skewer.
"Will we bring it back next year? In all honesty, probably not," Conville said. "It's a shame that it wasn't researched prior to letting everybody do it."
Other New Jersey retailers who offer food products prepared with liquid nitrogen at the point of sale — as well as malls where related kiosks are located — did not respond to requests for comment.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.