Calls have been made to ban the use of liquid nitrogen in alcoholic drinks after a Lancaster teenager narrowly avoided death.
Lancaster Council and Lancaster’s MP are among those calling for an investigation after Gaby Scanlon, 18, from Heysham, was lucky to escape with her life after drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen.
She had been out celebrating her 18th birthday with friends on Thursday, October 4, and reported feeling breathless after drinking the cocktail at Oscar’s Wine Bar and Bistro in George Street.
Gaby, a sixth form student at Ripley St Thomas CofE Academy, then developed severe stomach pain and was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary at about 11pm where she was diagnosed with a perforated stomach and underwent emergency surgery to remove her stomach.
It is thought that she is currently in a serious but stable condition.
Mike Leaf, acting director of Public Health at NHS North Lancashire said: “It is shocking that liquid nitrogen is being used in a way to make alcohol glamorous to young people.
“Anything which causes a danger to Public Health should be discouraged and based on the risks posed I feel that there would be justification for a ban to be placed on these drinks.”
Councillor Paul Aitchison, chairman of Lancaster City Council’s Licensing Act Committee, who at 20 is one of the country’s youngest councillors, said that he was at the same bar a few months ago and tried the Nitro Jagermeister drink, similar to the one Gaby is believed to have drunk.
He said: “I heard about this story and I was quite shocked because I have actually tried it myself.
“It was quite scary to think that it could have possibly happened to me.”
At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Lancaster City Council called for an investigation into the potential health risks of liquid nitrogen.
MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood Eric Ollerenshaw said he fully supported the council’s resolution adding: “I find it unbelievable that the Food Standards Agency claim there is guidance over something as dangerous as this.
“You would expect the guidance to be ‘don’t use it’”.
Coun Aitchison said: “We can, as a nation, have a discussion about the danger of using it in alcoholic drinks and what needs to be done to limit its use in such ways.”
Part of the resolution made by cabinet was for the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to be informed of the council’s position.
Coun Aitchison added: “Hopefully we can be proactive in the future to ensure that unusual and dangerous substances will not be used in alcoholic drinks.”
Doctors said that Gaby would have died if the operation not been carried out urgently.
Management at Oscars Wine Bar and Bistro, which served the drink said in a statement they could not comment due to the probe.
But they added: “We are tremendously concerned for the person involved and our heartfelt, best wishes go out to them and their family at this distressing time.”
A Lancashire Police spokesperson said: “The premises involved have fully cooperated with all agencies and have suspended drinks involving liquid nitrogen.
“This is a tragic and life changing incident for an 18-year-old girl who was celebrating her birthday.
“The use of liquid nitrogen in bars is not illegal, however, we are continuing to look into the matter and will be working closely with our partners from other agencies.”
The force said it was the first incident of its kind it had dealt with.
Liz Nicholls, principal at Ripley, said the teenager is one of their “most hardworking and mature students”.
She said: “Our whole school community is shocked and upset at what has happened.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Gaby, her family and her friends who are obviously upset and distressed.
“We are pleased to hear that she is making better than expected progress.”