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FDA warns against cooking chicken in NyQuil, the latest social media challenge

Cold medicine for sale in Walgreens.Jeff Greenberg/Photographer: Jeff Greenberg/Uni

Federal regulators issued a warning this week urging the public to keep their kids safe from the latest social media trend: boiling chicken in NyQuil.

Yes. You read that right.

A recent social media challenge encourages people to cook chicken in NyQuil or other over-the-counter cough and cold medications — which include a mixture of acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and doxylamine — presumably to eat.

“The challenge sounds silly and unappetizing — and it is. But it could also be very unsafe,” the Food and Drug Administration said in a release. “Boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated, and change its properties in other ways.”

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The FDA warned that such a challenge can be dangerous 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. It could also hurt your lungs. Put simply: Someone could take a dangerously high amount of the cough and cold medicine without even realizing it.”

The warning comes after another social media challenge on TikTok that urged teens to take a large dose of the allergy medicine diphenhydramine to try to induce hallucinations. After reports of individuals being taken to emergency rooms and in some cases, dying, the FDA issued a similar warning.

So how can parents keep their kids safe against these harmful trends? The FDA advises keeping over-the-counter and prescription drugs away from children and locking up medications to prevent overdoses.

Regulators also recommend sitting down with kids to discuss the dangers of misusing drugs, and how social media “can lead to real, sometimes irreversible damage.”

The FDA advises parents remind kids that overdoses can occur both with over-the-counter and prescription drugs.


Brittany Bowker can be reached at brittany.bowker@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @brittbowker and on Instagram @brittbowker.