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Bar fined for serving liquid nitrogen drink that led to teen having stomach removed

Technically Incorrect: A UK bar is reportedly fined about 100,000 pounds ($155,000) for serving a woman a very unsafe science-based drink in 2012.

Liquid nitrogen cocktails can look like fun, but beware. © Nikolai Golovanoff/Corbis

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Every time I watch "Top Chef" I wonder how much more molecular gastronomy can become.

There are, however, limits to the integration of science and, say, alcohol.

Gaby Scanlon was reportedly celebrating her 18th birthday in Oscar's Wine Bar in 2012. This Lancaster, UK, establishment served her something called a Nitro-Jagermeister.

The usual price was 3 British pounds and 95 pence (about $6). This one cost Scanlon her stomach. It has now cost the bar around $155,000.

As the BBC reports, Scanlon asked the bartender whether the cocktail was OK to drink. The bartender told her to go ahead. Indeed, the Guardian reports that one witness heard the bartender say: "Drink it while it's still smoking."

Scanlon told a court: "Smoke was coming from my nose and mouth. Straight away I knew something was not right. My stomach expanded."

It expanded so much that it was perforated. She was taken for emergency surgery. Her stomach was removed. A direct connection was created between her esophagus and her small bowel. She spent three weeks in hospital.

A court last week reportedly fined Oscar's 100,000 pounds (about $155,000). The bar's owners admitted they hadn't carried out a risk assessment before serving such drinks.

Liquid nitrogen drinks may look dramatic, but you have to wait for the nitrogen to evaporate before even thinking of drinking.

The wine bar had merely given its staff loose rules that said "wait 1o seconds before drinking." This figure wasn't based on scientific fact or safety standards.

Liquid nitrogen is often used for freezing warts. In this case, it had killed Scanlon's internal tissues before damaging her stomach. This was not dissimilar to giving her stomach frostbite.

The incident occurred shortly after Oscar's had opened. A health and safety inspection officer had sent the bar a letter expressing concern about the drinks but had received no reply.

Scanlon now says she still suffers from pain and can't enjoy eating anymore. A lawyer for Oscar's said the company's culpability lay in its "ignorance."

Scanlon had actually been given the drink free by the bartender because it was her birthday.