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‘Precautions taken for consumption of Dragon’s Breath’

At least two dessert retailers offering “Dragon’s Breath” — a dessert tossed in liquid nitrogen — have taken steps to advise customers on consuming the cold dessert safely, after a state in Malaysia sounded the alarm citing complaints from consumers there.

‘Precautions taken for consumption of Dragon’s Breath’

Liquid nitrogen is added to the Dragon’s Breath dessert to create a smoke effect. The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said nitrogen gas is a permitted food additive under the Food Regulations. Photo: Sonia Yeo

SINGAPORE — At least two dessert retailers offering “Dragon’s Breath” — a dessert tossed in liquid nitrogen — have taken steps to advise customers on consuming the cold dessert safely, after a state in Malaysia sounded the alarm citing complaints from consumers there.

These include putting up posters describing how to eat it safely and ensuring it is served correctly.

The dessert is made up of crispy biscuits and cookies of various flavours (such as corn or chocolate), and the liquid nitrogen creates the effect of smoke coming out of one’s mouth and nose when consuming it.

According to news reports late last month, the Kedah Health Department had received five complaints of customers suffering burns after consuming the dessert.

When approached, the Consumers Association of Singapore said it has not received any complaints about Dragon’s Breath or against the shops offering the dessert, Tio Smoke and Coyoro.

But Coyoro’s co-founder, who only wanted to be known as Mr Law, said his shop did see one incident where a customer suffered cold burns after a biscuit got stuck to the side of his gums.

Following the incident, “we took immediate action to refresh our staff’s safety handling and also to notify customers on how to play with Dragon’s Breath”, he said, declining to elaborate on the incident.

Posters have been placed at its two outlets — at East Village and Bugis Street — to advise people on how to consume the dessert, such as not eat it with their tongue. Notices were also placed to remind staff on handling Dragon’s Breath appropriately.

Mr Law said all staff are trained before they start serving the dessert to consumers. To ensure that Dragon’s Breath is safe for consumption, “we serve (it) when the liquid nitrogen is dried up, (and) no additional liquid is given in the cup (as a refill).

This is to ensure customers will not be in direct contact with the liquid nitrogen”, he added.

After news broke in Malaysia, Coyoro, which opened in July last year, received “a few” enquiries from customers, said Mr Law, but added that “business was as (per) normal”.

Tio Smoke founders Derek Neo and Cai Ximin said they pay close attention when handling the dessert, ensuring there is no liquid nitrogen left when the dish is served. Tio Smoke currently does not have a physical store, but can be found at pop-up markets.

“We make sure that the liquid nitrogen is drained out before serving the dessert to the customers,” Mr Neo said, adding that posters are also in place to tell customers how to eat it.

Ms Cai added that checks are also conducted on the nitrogen tanks when suppliers deliver them to the site, and the suppliers will also pop by “as and when” to ensure the tanks are still safe for use.

According to an Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) spokesman, “nitrogen gas is a permitted food additive under the Food Regulations”.

“It is usually used as a packaging gas to reduce the oxygen content within the food packaging; thereby slowing the deterioration of the food. For example, a bag of potato chips may contain nitrogen gas, which is packed together with the chips,” explained the spokesman.

Liquid nitrogen, she added, which is nitrogen at an extremely low temperature, is also known to be used as a refrigerant.

“For example ... it is added to the liquid mixture of ice cream or a dessert to rapidly freeze it and as the food freezes, the liquid nitrogen also vaporises (i.e. it turns into nitrogen gas and is no longer present in the final food product),” said the spokesman.

“Once the liquid nitrogen has completely vaporised, the risk of liquid nitrogen causing severe frostbite and cryogenic burns can be avoided.”

Nursaiba Abdul Latif, 22, who has eaten the dessert twice, said she does not think it is dangerous. But she maintained that the eateries that serve it should provide disclaimers and tips on eating it, “especially for people with sensitive teeth”.

The branch manager of a learning centre said she took care while consuming Dragon’s Breath as she knows that liquid nitrogen can cause burns, and added that she would not mind eating the dessert again.

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