The FDA says don’t try this TikTok challenge of cooking chicken in NyQuil
Not for the first time, a government organization has issued a warning over a new online trend that sounds too stupid to be real. The latest TikTok craze putting people’s lives at risk is the “sleepy chicken” challenge. It involves cooking chicken in NyQuil or another over-the-counter cough and cold medication, presumably to eat it.
The FDA warns that even if you cook the chicken in NyQuil, which contains acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, and doxylamine, and don’t eat it, boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways. Inhaling the fumes could cause high levels of the drugs to enter the body and damage the lungs.
Not only does the challenge present dangers from the medicine, but there’s also a risk of eating undercooked chicken—boiling poultry in medicine isn’t a recommended cooking method.
NyQuil has responded to the trend by Tweeting that it does not endorse inappropriate use of its product. TikTok is doing its part by directing those who search for “NyQuil Chicken” to a page about assessing challenges. It also includes safety warnings about dangerous, disturbing, or even fabricated trends.
This isn’t the first time the FDA has had to warn about the dangers of TikTok challenges involving medicines. There was a previous challenge from 2020 that involved taking large doses of allergy medicine diphenhydramine, often sold under the brand name Benadryl, to try and induce hallucinations. It led to emergency room admissions and, in some cases, deaths of teenagers who had overdosed on the drug.
Dangerous TikTok challenges are far from a new phenomenon. The company was sued earlier this year by parents of children who died participating in the ‘blackout challenge,’ which involves users trying to asphyxiate themselves, sometimes by pressing their palms into their necks, until they blackout.
We’ve also seen the milk crate challenge that involves climbing the unsecured crates; the aptly-named skull-breaker challenge; the salt and ice challenge where participants pour salt on their bodies before ice is placed on the salt; the Drake-inspired Kiki challenge; and the notorious Tide Pod challenge linked to at least ten deaths.