The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning against cooking chicken in NyQuil after a challenge on social media encouraging young viewers to try it went viral.
“One social media trend that relies on peer pressure is online video clips of people abusing nonprescription drugs, encouraging viewers to do the same,” the FDA wrote. “These video challenges, often aimed at teens, can harm people — and even cause death.”
The trend is challenging people to cook chicken in NyQuil or similar over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, according to the FDA. However, boiling certain drugs can be harmful to breathing, let alone eating, the agency warned.
“Boiling a drug can make it much more concentrated and alter its properties in other ways,” the FDA wrote. “Even if you don’t eat the chicken, inhaling the fumes from the drug as it cooks can cause high levels of the drug to enter your body. It could also injure your lungs.”
The notice included warnings about other dangerous social media trends, such as a TikTok challenge that urged viewers to consume large doses of the allergy drug diphenhydramine, found in Benadryl and other over-the-counter products, in order to hallucinate.
The agency said the so-called “Benadryl Challenge” has led to hospitalizations and deaths of young people.
In the warning, the FDA made several suggestions on how parents could prevent their children from participating in these harmful social media challenges. For example, parents should keep over-the-counter and prescription drugs away from their children or lock the drugs away to avoid accidental overdoses, the FDA said. The agency also encouraged parents and guardians to have clear and open conversations with their children.
“Sit down with your kids and discuss the dangers of substance abuse and how social media trends can cause real, sometimes irreversible harm,” the FDA said. “Remind your kids that overdoses can happen with both over-the-counter and prescription drugs.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics also advised parents to talk to their teens about what social media or school challenges are trending.
“Sometimes kids are more willing to talk about their peers than themselves. Asking questions about school trends, friends, and fads can provide more answers than direct questions about their own activities,” the AAP said on its website.
“No matter what happens, it’s important to keep lines of communication open and avoid judgment,” the academy added.
Teens and young people are most vulnerable to dangerous social media challenges because their brains aren’t fully developed, the AAP said.
“Social media rewards outrageous behavior, and the more outrageous, the greater the braggart rights,” the academy said. “It’s a fast-moving, impulsive environment, and the fear of losing is real for teenagers. This environment impacts a teenager’s underdeveloped ability to consider their actions and possible consequences.”
When using over-the-counter medications, it’s always important to read the directions and use them as directed, the FDA said. People should call their pharmacist or doctor if they have any questions about medications.