Gurugram dry ice mix-up sends diners to hospital, doctors ring alarm bells on online trends

- March 5, 2024
| By : Stuti Nanda |

A trendy dining experience turns perilous as viral-worthy presentations take precedence over health, prompting a cautionary tale of online obsession and culinary safety

A screengrab of the viral incident from Gurugram (L); a representational photo of dry ice.

A social media outrage was ignited on Monday after shocking visuals of five diners vomiting blood at a restaurant surfaced. According to the police, the five friends on March 3 began bleeding in the mouth after consuming dry ice served to them in an apparent mix-up at the La Forestta cafe-cum-restaurant in Sector 90.

In connection with the case, the manager, 30-year-old Gagandeep, a resident of Kirti Nagar in Delhi, who joined the cafe three months ago, was arrested.

During the preliminary interrogation, it was revealed to the police that a packet of dry ice got mixed up with one of mouth freshener (misri) “due to the negligence by the restaurant staff”.

What is dry ice?

Dry Ice, is the solid form of Carbon Dioxide. It is commonly known for its cooling property and is used for temporary refrigeration as CO₂ does not have a liquid state at normal atmospheric pressure and sublimes directly from the solid state to the gas state. It is also used in fog machines at theatres for dramatic effects.

In this “Camera Eats First” era, food presentation has taken center stage, sometimes at the cost of health. With restaurants vying for viral-worthy dishes, there’s a concerning trend of incorporating harmful or non-edible items.

Dr Nandini Chopra highlights the shift, noting how the primary purpose of eating—nourishing the body—has been overshadowed by the quest for online recognition.

“By and large, lives of people have started to revolve around social media. Health is no exception. The main aim of eating, which is to nourish the body has shifted,” she says.

Dry ice looks photogenic, but is hazardous to health.

At the cafe, they were served dry ice granules as a mouth freshener after their meal. After consuming, it caused a burning sensation and cuts on their tongue. They tried spitting it out and even sipping water to cool down the burning sensation but to no avail. Some of them even experienced vomiting and bleeding thereafter.

An FIR against the waitress has been filed.

Dr Chopra adds, “People have started consuming anything and everything in the name of it being ‘trendy’. Food pages and influencers do create a buzz about certain dishes but these items are seldom healthy. Along with food, it is important for us as viewers to also assess the kind of content we are consuming. This begins with not falling for fad-diets and foods.”

“Always be a vigilant consumer. Always read the ingredients usually written in very small font sizes. If you have questions feel free to ask the person in-charge. Each individual is different and hence, what works for someone might not work for you. Know yourself better to understand what your body needs,” she advises.