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Please don't cook chicken in NyQuil, the FDA asks TikTok users

NyQuil cold medicine containing dextromethorphan is offered for sale at a retail store December 05, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson
Getty Images
NyQuil cold medicine containing dextromethorphan is offered for sale at a retail store December 05, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.

Cooking chicken in NyQuil cold medicine doesn't sound very appetizing — and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants you to know that it's definitely not safe, either.

The agency has issued a warningabout videos that have surfaced on TikTok challenging people to cook chicken in NyQuil, which contains acetaminophen, dextromethorphan and doxylamine, or similar over-the-counter cough and cold medications, according to the FDA.

"Boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways," the warning said. "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."

TikTok has already slapped a warning on the the challenge, known as #sleepychicken. When searching for related videos on TikTok, users are greeted with a message: "Some online challenges can be dangerous, disturbing, or even fabricated. Learn how to recognize harmful challenges so you can protect your health and well-being."

NyQuil chicken was supposed to be a joke

Although #sleepychicken has recently taken off on TikTok, the image of NyQuil-soaked chicken has been floating around the internet for years. In 2017, Twitter user Tristan Depew tweeted out an image of chicken in NyQuil. The tweet was a joke, and there was not an intention of eating the chicken or asking others to do the same, Depew told NPR.

"I have seen it on TikTok, which is a bit more concerning because the audience of my original tweet — which I do think started it all — is notably older," Depew said. "There is something to be said about the concern that the children over on TikTok might not treat this with as much caution."

"Personally, seeing that this was only now addressed over five years later, it's just another example of the FDA's dangerous lack of urgency and oversight when it comes to the public's health and well-being," Depew said.

When reached for a comment regarding the FDA's warning, Procter & Gamble issued the following statement.

At P&G, consumer safety is our number one priority, and we do not endorse any inappropriate use of our product. NyQuil is an over the counter medication that treats nighttime symptoms of the common cold and flu. It should only be taken as directed using the dosage cup provided (Adults and Children 12 years and over: 30mL every 6 hours), not to exceed (4) doses per 24 hours

Harmful eating challenges like #sleepychicken follow previous dangerous trends, such as 2018's Tide Pod challenge and the Cinnamon Challenge, which peaked in 2012.

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Matt Adams
Matt Adams is an Audience Engagement Strategist at NPR, where he is always thinking of how a broadcast company can do more on the internet. His focus is on social media strategy and how to connect NPR with new audiences in creative ways, from community building to social audio.