Health implications of serving dry ice in cocktails
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has cautioned bar operators and cocktail consumers about the health risk of dry ice served in cocktails.
In a feature article copied to The Spectator, it stated that the use of dry ice in cocktails has become increasingly popular in recent years, as it added a unique and impressive visual effect to many cocktails because of the dramatic “smoking” effect it created.
“Although dry ice itself is not toxic, it can pose certain health risks if not handled properly. It is, therefore, important to educate the public on the proper handling and use of dry ice to prevent any potential safety hazards,” the article said.
The FDA noted that the revellers at night clubs, bars and other eateries must beware of the risk of carbon dioxide exposed in such enclosed places, due to the use of dry ice.
“When dry ice is added to drinks, it sublimates (i.e. moving directly from the solid state to the gaseous state), releasing carbon dioxide gas. This gas could displace oxygen in the air and create a hazardous environment, particularly in small or enclosed spaces. To prevent this risk, it is important to use dry ice in a well-ventilated area and avoid using too much dry ice at once,” it warned.
Additionally, the FDA said that bartenders must educate themselves and other staff on the proper handling of dry ice. This included wearing gloves and using tongs or other appropriate tools to handle the dry ice, as it can cause frostbite or burns if it comes into contact with skin.
The FDA further advised cocktail providers to alert their staff and customers to avoid ingesting dry ice in their drinks, which causes serious injury to their mouths and stomach walls.
The Authority informed bartenders to store dry ice in a well-ventilated, cool, and dry area, and should not be sealed in airtight containers or rooms.
“It is also important to transport dry ice in insulated containers to prevent any potential safety hazards during transport,” it added.
Moreover, the FDA, underscored the importance of labelling drinks which contained dry ice, thereby forewarning customers of the potential hazards associated with it.
“This can be done with a label or warning sign on the menu, or by informing customers directly when they order the drink,” it said.
The FDA, therefore, entreated consumers to be cautious about carbon dioxide exposure, and that the potential for frostbite and burns were the main risks associated with dry ice.
“A little usage of dry ice goes a long way when it comes to creating the “smoking” effect. Using too much dry ice can be dangerous, as it can cause an excessive amount of carbon dioxide gas inhalation,” it advised.
Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is a colourless, odourless gas that is present in the air we breathe. It is extremely cold, with a temperature of around -78.5°C, thus making it a great option for chilling drinks quickly.