The FDA Issued A Grave Warning About This Dangerous Cooking Trend

The latest in a series of dangerous online culinary challenges has prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a warning to parents and TikTok-obsessed teens alike, voicing concerns of the dangers of viral social media trends that promote the misuse of over-the-counter medications.

"Social media trends and peer pressure can be a dangerous combination to your children and their friends, especially when involving misusing medicines," the health administration wrote. "These video challenges, which often target youths, can harm people — and even cause death." The report called out one recent viral TikTok challenge as a prime example of how even farcical videos could cause serious harm.

The aforementioned Sleepy Chicken Challenge first emerged in January, when a TikTok user filmed themselves pouring a bottle of nighttime cold medicine over raw chicken breasts while saying, "I got sick last night so I'm cooking up some NyQuil chicken" (via Forbes). In the now-deleted video, the user goes on to cook the chicken submerged in the medicine, noting that "sometimes the steam really makes you sleepy."

While it's unclear whether the video was made in jest, other TikTok users began replicating the video, using the hashtag #SleepyChicken to share their posts. While eating the chicken on camera was not included in the challenge, the FDA cautioned that "even if you don't eat the chicken, inhaling the medication's vapors while cooking could cause high levels of the drugs to enter your body" and "could also hurt your lungs."

The sleepy chicken trend

The NyQuil Chicken trend isn't the first social challenge to encourage hoards of internet users to ingest products dangerously. In 2018, the Tide Pod challenge, which urged social media users to bite down on laundry detergent pods on camera swept the nation, prompting the detergent company to issue a PSA about the proper way to use its product.

And, in 2012, the cinnamon challenge — one of the earliest viral internet challenges — swept the web as popular YouTubers and everyday people attempted to ingest spoonfuls of cinnamon (via Forbes). According to Vice, the trend caused an uptick in calls to poison control centers in the U.S. and was linked to the death of a 4-year-old who ingested an entire container of the ground spice.

Although the NyQuil Chicken Challenge hasn't resulted in any widely reported illnesses or deaths, the FDA urged parents to "discuss the dangers of misusing drugs" with their children and to immediately seek medical care if they believe their child has taken too much medication.

It appears TikTok is also making its own effort to stop the spread of dangerous viral challenges. Upon entering phrases like "NyQuil Chicken" or "Sleepy Chicken" into the app's search bar, users are met with a resources toolbar for learning "how to recognize harmful challenges" and a message that "some online challenges can be dangerous, disturbing, or even fabricated."