UK bar fined $200k; failed to heed warnings on liquid nitrogen drinks
A UK bar has been fined £100,000 ($216,000) following a 2012 incident which resulted in a young woman having her stomach removed after ingesting liquid nitrogen.
Gaby Scanlon was celebrating her 18th birthday at Oscar’s Wine Bar and Bistro in Lancaster and was offered a free ‘Nitro-Jagermeister’ shot. Almost immediately after she consumed the drink, smoke started coming out of her nose and mouth. The liquid nitrogen, which caused the drink to smoke, pierced her stomach and killed internal tissue, SMH reports.
As a result, Scanlon had her stomach removed and still suffers pain three years later.
The court heard that the bar’s director, Andrew Dunn, introduced a range of liquid nitrogen inspired drinks after seeing similar drinks being served in London.
Staff at Oscar’s Wine Bar and Bistro were given “loose” training on how to serve the drinks, and were told to wait 10 seconds after the liquid nitrogen was poured before serving the drinks to patrons. Drinks containing liquid nitrogen are only safe to consume once the substance has completely evaporated.
It’s been revealed that a health and safety officer provided the bar with a letter of guidance on how to best serve drinks containing liquid nitrogen after developing concerns about how it was being used by staff.
The bar pleaded guilty to failing in the duty of an employer to ensure the safety of persons not in its employment, admitting that it hadn’t ensured the shot was safe for consumption and had not carried out a risk assessment.
Judge Pamela Badley said the bar’s “failings fell very far short of standards” adding that “there was a failure to heed warnings and advice from a senior health and safety officer.
“Overall there is evidence of serious systemic failures within the organisation,” Badley said.
The 2012 incident saw the use of liquid nitrogen in Australian bars assessed, with the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) ordering two Sydney bars, Zeta Bar in the Hilton Hotel and The Roosevelt in Kings Cross, to cease serving drinks containing the substance.
Mixologist Grant Collins called the ban a “knee jerk reaction”, asking for greater consultation with the OLGR and arguing that he’s been using liquid nitrogen for years, incident-free.
"It's like most things – if you're driving a car and you don't drive the car properly you can have an accident. If you don't look both ways when you cross the road or if you drink a whole bottle of whiskey you're not going to be very well … With alcohol you've got to be careful how you use it. With liquid nitrogen it's the same, it's a volatile substance,” he said.
“It should never be in a drink, it should be either a garnish or used to prepare glassware, just for effect really.”