UAE: Viral 'sleepy chicken' challenge condemned by doctors as they urge caution against online trends

Netizens are being challenged to cook raw chicken in a pool of sleep-inducing cold medicine — prompting the international authorities to issue advisories


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Fri 23 Sep 2022, 9:59 AM

Last updated: Fri 23 Sep 2022, 2:05 PM

Doctors in the UAE are warning residents against a dangerous food challenge that recently went viral on the Internet.

The challenge had been telling Netizens to try cooking raw chicken in a pool of NyQuil, a sleep-inducing cold medicine. Soon after the heavy circulation of that video, several people tried out the new recipe known as 'sleepy chicken', prompting the US Food and Drug Administration to issue an advisory.

UAE doctors cautioned residents against using unusual ingredients in cooking food — especially if they do not have enough information about them.

Dr Amani Elghafri, internal medicine consultant at Valiant Clinic & Hospital, said such a viral trend could take "a massive toll on one's health".

"Cooking chicken in cough medicine is a new and unnatural challenge that has been spread worldwide. Not only is the video that started this trend growing in popularity, but it’s being tested by people who have viewed it.”

Explaining why this is dangerous, he said: “Cough medicine and other over-the-counter medications become more concentrated and even altered when exposed to high temperatures. Once heated, the cough medicine starts to release dangerous vapours that can seriously harm your lungs. This is not only damaging when done using cough syrup, but other medicines as well.”

Elghafri reiterated parents and guardians must continuously remind the youth not to follow online trends mindlessly.

"Make sure to always remain aware of what effects ‘trends’ can have and educate your children about the rights and wrongs of following what others do online," he said.

Poisonous for human consumption

Medical experts stressed that exposing a medicine to high temperatures may even turn it poisonous. When the structure of any medication is changed via cooking, the process ultimately alters the molecule resulting in a new substance.

Dr Fadi Baladi, medical director and internal medicine consultant at Burjeel Day Surgery Centre, Reem Island, said: “Medications are made up of specific molecules that must be maintained at a particular temperature. If we don't store certain syrups, pills, etc, at specific temperatures, they can be ruined.

"So, when you subject the medicine to very high temperatures in a cooking environment, you are altering the molecules. Using medication for cooking alters the molecules completely, and they change into unknown molecules that have not been tested for safety.”

Dr Yousra Heikal, general practitioner at Prime Medical Center - Barsha Heights, said: “Burning food... all these types of challenges are not recommended at all because it’s not good for our health. They can be carcinogenic which obviously is not good.”

Khaleej Times reached out to TikTok for a clarification, and the platform stressed in a statement that they condemn such perilous practices.

"Content that promotes dangerous behaviour has no place on TikTok", a TikTok spokesperson said.

“This is not trending on our platform, but we will remove the content if found and strongly discourage anyone from engaging in behaviour that may be harmful to themselves or others.”


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