Liquid nitrogen-infused ‘chiki ngebul’ snacks spark medical emergency in West Java

Dragon’s breath AKA Chiki Ngebul. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Dragon’s breath AKA Chiki Ngebul. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A novel snack has sparked a medical emergency in West Java, a health official said, as authorities are urging extreme caution against the liquid nitrogen-infused sweets called chiki ngebul.

Chiki ngebul, which, like dragon’s breath comprises colorful cereals blanketed by white liquid nitrogen clouds, has risen in popularity recently among children, including in West Java. The province has recorded at least 28 cases of food poisoning and internal organ damage, involving children aged 4-13, related to chiki ngebul since November 2022.

“We have received a directive [from the Ministry of Health] to declare this a medical emergency,” West Java Health Agency Head of Surveillance and Immunizations Dewi Ambarwati said today.

The agency also advised parents to keep chiki ngebul away from their children for the time being. That may be easier said than done, however, as the snack is generally sold by street vendors in places lacking parental supervision.

Given that chiki ngebul has been around for several years, health officials are looking into whether the recent spate of cases were caused by negligent producers before an outright ban on the snack can be imposed. 

For now, authorities say they are stepping up supervision on the production and commercial aspects of chiki ngebul.

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