Frozen treats may be dangerous if not handled properly

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    By David Johnson

    BYU master”s student Dave Meilstrup had a tongue-jerking experience with an ice cream bar at a recent accounting function in the Wilkinson Student Center.

    “All I could think about was ”Dumb and Dumber” and ”The Christmas Story”,” said the 25 year old from Hershey, Penn., whose tongue was frozen to an orange and vanilla dream bar. “I couldn”t believe it was actually happening.”

    And Meilstrup isn”t the only one who has been troubled by the cream sickles.

    Over the past three weeks at least a dozen BYU students received oral injuries while eating super-frozen orange cream sickles supplied by BYU Dining Services. The frozen treats, transported in coolers packed with dry ice, were given out at various functions on campus including Fall Fling, accounting orientations and an engineering function.

    “There were free orange cream sickles at Fall Fling, and I really like cream sickles so I opened the wrapper and popped it in my mouth,” said Melissa Leininger, 20, a junior from Ogden, Weber County, studying elementary and early childhood education. “Then it just stuck to the inside of my upper lip.”

    Leininger said she gently tried to pull the cream sickle from her lip, but the frozen treat was firmly stuck.

    “I finally pulled really hard and it came off, but it took a chunk of my lip with it. I bled everywhere, on my fingers, on the pop sickle – everywhere,” said Leininger, who then had to fight the crowds at Fall Fling to clean her wound in a Wilkinson Center rest room. Lininger said her injuries didn”t heal for three days.

    More than eight students had similar encounters at an engineering function.

    “I ripped it off and man if hurt,” said Cory Tholl, 22, a junior from American Fork studying mechanical engineering. “It happened to at least 7 or 8 others.”

    The common culprit among those who were injured seems to be the Blue Bunny Orange Dream Bar, a vanilla-flavored reduced-fat ice cream bar coated with orange sherbet.

    Both Lineinger and Meilstrup said they saw peers eating cream sickles from the same box they did, with none of the painful side effects.

    “It was almost like cream sickle roulette,” Lineinger said. “I didn”t see anyone else that had a super-frozen cream sickle stuck to their tongue.”

    John Whalen, a dry ice professional from Cryogenisis, an Ohio-based dry ice firm, explained why the cream sickle injuries appear to be random.

    “Dry ice is very cold, negative 109.9 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact,” said Whalen. “When a food product comes in direct contact with dry ice it will become super frozen.”

    Whalen said with brief exposure, not all of the cream sickles in the cooler would become super frozen; only those on the ends of each box that are touching the supply of dry ice.

    “We serve 35,000 meals every day,” said Dean Wright, director of BYU Dining Services, when asked about the injuries received by students. “If there is a problem, our hope is the guest would notify someone immediately so we could take measures to correct it.”

    Dining Services was not aware of the super-frozen cream sickle problem until informed of the injuries by NewsNet, Wright said.

    “It would be up to the individual giving out the pop sickle to make sure they are not melted or too frozen,” said Wright. “It”s common sense that if something is placed next to dry ice you would let it thaw before you serve it.”

    All of these injuries could have been avoided if the students didn”t yank the frozen cream sickles off their tongues, said Dr. Frost Steele, a food safety specialist and professor in the BYU Department of Food Science and Nutrition.

    “Very hot or cold food items can be dangerous,” said Steele. “It”s important to treat temperature extremes with respect.”

    Dr. Steele said most people are careful with hot things like hot chocolate, but cold substances can be deceptive.

    “Water on your skin or tongue immediately freezes, effectively gluing the cream sickle to your tongue or lip,” said Steele.

    He advises student to who do get a cream sickle stuck to their lip or tongue to either generate enough saliva to melt the bond or pour a cup a warm water on the affected area.

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