DRINKS specialists and bars in East Lancashire have said they always put customer safety first when serving ‘smoking’ beverages.

It comes after an 18-year-old had to undergo emergency surgery to remove her stomach after drinking a cocktail containing liquid nitrogen at a bar in Lancaster.

Damian Cunliffe, director at Smoking Drinks, which has its head office in Ainsworth Street, Blackburn, and provides equipment to bars all over the country, said his firm only used powdered carbon dioxide, which does not come into contact with consumers.

He said: “Powdered carbon dioxide is in an encapsulated format, which allows you to smoke a drink safely, keeping the chemical separate from the consumer.

“We have been operating for three years and we have an exemplary record.

“Liquid nitrogen is not something I have come across before. It can be common in posh restaurants, but I have never used it in a drink situation.”

Mr Cunliffe, who lives in Accrington, said the biggest difference between the two preparation methods was the temperature, with liquid nitrogen being served at minus 200 degrees Celsius, and powdered carbon dioxide at minus 80 degrees Celsius.

The 30-year-old said: “The lower temperature makes it easier to use. We run it through a special filter which does not allow it to escape.

“We have risk assessments to ensure the powder does not come into contact with the consumers.

“We have a patented technology which allows the liquid to flow through.

“If people are worried, I would advise them to look for the branding and make sure it is run by a reputable company.”

Hannah Kettleton, manager at Rewind bar, in Hammerton Street, Burnley, said the bar only used carbon dioxide to serve smoking sambuca shots.

She said: “I have had it in here for well over 12 months and I have never had any issues. We have risk assessments and all of our staff have to have training.”