Indonesia govt urges vigilance after liquid nitrogen-infused snack causes stomach burns

    ANN/THE STAR – The Indonesian government is urging parents to be more vigilant and has ordered local health agencies to increase their monitoring of food establishments, particularly after multiple children throughout the country had stomach burns from a street snack that was frozen by liquid nitrogen.

    The snack in question, known locally as chiki ngebul, is named after a popular Indonesian brand of packaged snacks and has taken social media by storm in recent months. Children have recorded themselves eating the snack with smoke from the liquid nitrogen coming out of their mouths.

    Speaking to the press last Thursday, the Health Ministry’s director for environmental health Dr Anas Ma’ruf said there had been at least nine confirmed incidents due to the snack in 2022.

    “From the data that we have collected, (the issues from the snack) only happened in 2022.

    We cross-checked (our data) from 2021, 2020 and 2019 and there were no reports of it,” Dr Anas said.

    The country’s first known medical case concerning the snack was reported in East Java’s Ponorogo regency in July 2022. It involved freeze burns on a child’s skin after the child had consumed the snack.

    A vendor preparing a snack frozen with liquid nitrogen in Jakarta. PHOTO: THE STAR

    In November, West Java’s Tasikmalaya regency reported incidents believed to be connected to the snack.

    The health authorities later ruled out 16 cases without relevant symptoms but confirmed the remaining seven cases, where the patients showed symptoms of nausea, vomiting, dizziness and stomach pains.

    An additional four cases were reported in Bekasi city, West Java, in December. While three were ruled out for not showing relevant symptoms, a four-year-old had severe stomach pain after consuming the snack.

    The child’s father, Jamaludin, later told media outlet Kompas that his child required an operation after doctors found a two-centimetre tear in the stomach.

    The health authorities are also investigating another likely case in East Java.

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