HEALTH & SAFETY
Live events sector
A wine bar has been fined £100,000 after a woman drank a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen which caused so much damage she had to have her stomach removed. Gaby Scanlon, of Heysham, Lancashire, had been celebrating her 18th birthday in 2012 with friends at Oscar’s Wine Bar in Lancaster when she was given a free a Nitro-Jagermeister shot. As soon as she swallowed her drink she felt an explosion in her stomach and a smoke like vapour came out of her nose. Ms Scanlon said she felt her stomach expand. The court heard Ms Scanlon was left close to death after drinking the drink which usually cost £3.95 shot. She was taken to Lancaster Royal Infirmary, where a CT scan found a large perforation in her stomach.
Ms Scanlon, now 20, spent three weeks in hospital, undergoing surgery to remove her stomach and connect her oesophagus directly to her small bowel. Her solicitors told the court the experience, on 4 October 2012, had “completely changed” her life. She now suffers from “episodes of agonising pain”, has to avoid some foods and can no longer enjoy eating, they said.
The Bar, which had opened five months before the incident, had previously admitted health and safety failings, at Preston Crown Court and agreed that it had failed to ensure that the shot was fit for human consumption, specifically failing in the duty of an employer to ensure the safety of persons not in its employment, and admitting it failed to ensure the shot cocktail was safe for consumption. Judge Pamela Badley said that “failings fell very far short of standards” and that it was “astonishing” that no risk assessment had been carried out on the drink. Peter Lord, a health and safety officer, had sent the bar a guidance on liquid nitrogen usage which met with no response. Company Director Andrew Dunn, who had seen similar drinks in London, escaped prosecution after the prosecution said it would offer no evidence against him if he made a £20,000 contribution to the court costs prior to sentencing.
Drinks using liquid nitrogen look dramatic and are not illegal: scientists say the liquid must completely evaporate before the drink is safe for consumption.