A wine bar in Lancaster, UK has been fined £100,000 after a woman needed to have her stomach removed after drinking a liquid nitrogen cocktail.
Gaby Scanlon was celebrating her 18th birthday at Oscar’s Wine Bar and Bistro in 2012 when the barman handed her a free “Nitro-Jägermeister” shot. She asked him if it was okay to drink, and the barman said she should drink it “while it’s still smoking”.
However, she described feeling agonising pain and had to loosen her clothing as smoke started billowing out of her nose and mouth. She told Preston Crown Court: “Straight away I knew something was not right. My stomach expanded. The manager said nothing about waiting for it to die down.”
Scanlon was taken to Royal Lancaster Infirmary where her stomach was removed and her oesophagus connected to her small intestine to save her life.
The bar pleaded guilty to one count of failing in the duty of an employer to ensure the safety of persons not its employment, The Guardian says. It admitted failing to properly assess the risks of putting liquid nitrogen in the cocktail.
Judge Pamela Badley said: “It’s astonishing that no risk assessment had ever been carried out. There was a failure to heed warnings and advice from a senior health and safety officer. Overall there is evidence of serious systemic failings within the organisation.”
A health and safety officer sent a letter with guidance on using liquid nitrogen before the incident happened, but received no response.
“What happened has had a devastating impact on my health, and nothing is going to change that, but I am relieved that the court case has finally come to an end,” Scanlon said.
“I just want to be left alone now to try and get on with the rest of my life.
“I would never have touched the drink if I’d known what it would do and I would urge other people to avoid them, it’s just not worth the risk.”