A official warning about liquid nitrogen in cocktails was issued Monday by the Food Standards Agency of the United Kingdom. Her Majesty’s government went public with the warning after virtually every news outlet in the UK had made much of the same sad story. A young woman out celebrating her 18th birthday at Oscar’s wine bar in Lancaster city center did not know that you nurse a cocktail, especially one still smoking from being prepared with liquid nitrogen. Instead, she apparently drank it too quickly. It was not long before Gaby Scanlon from Heysham, Lancashire was feeling breathless, her stomach hurting. By 11 p.m. last Thursday, doctors at the Lancaster Royal Infirmary had found her stomach was perforated, and they immediately operated to remove most of it. Without the emergency surgery, the young woman would have most certainly died. “There are safety and handling guidelines around the use of liquid nitrogen, especially in relation to food,” said Colin Houston, who heads incident management for FSA, in the agency’s Monday warning. “It is the business owner’s responsibility to make sure that their staff have been trained and are aware of the potential risk of using liquid nitrogen. They also have to have appropriate safety measures in place to protect both their staff and consumers.” Houston said FSA will make local enforcement officers aware of the practice of using liquid nitrogen to make cocktails, and that such educational efforts will be made part of inspection regimes. FSA will also work with other enforcement agencies to investigate the issue and determine whether any further regulatory action is needed, according to Houston. FSA said food manufacturers, retailers and businesses in the UK have a legal obligation to make sure all food and beverages served to the public are fit for human consumption. Liquid nitrogen is non-toxic and has long been used to chill and freeze food. Its extremely low temperatures, however, can pose a threat to humans, especially when ingested. British media have pumped the story in a variety of ways. Professor John Ashton, director of public health for the National Health Service in Cumbria, blamed “an irresponsible alcohol industry competing on gimmicks.” Ashton told the Telegraph that the young woman lost her stomach to “the insidious approach to getting people drinking at young ages.” The Lancaster City Council’s Licensing Act Committee is chaired by 20-year-old Paul Aitchison, who told the Press Association Ltd that he too has tried a drink called a Nitro Jagermeister. The wine bar has ceased selling nitro drinks while police investigate. The young woman continues to recover in the hospital. After a gastrestomy, in which much of the stomach is removed, it is possible to for life to continue as normal with little more than the need to eat and drink in smaller amounts and take vitamin supplements to make up for the smaller diet. Safe drinking of a liquid nitrogen cocktail requires patience to make sure the liquid has entirely evaporated, preferably before it is served and certainly before it is consumed. Serve or drink it too soon and there is a risk of frostbite, cryogenic burns or, as Gaby Scanlon learned, something much worse if ingested too quickly.