FDA warns of viral ‘NyQuil Chicken Challenge’ on TikTok

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Photo courtesy of NPR

As part of a recent social media video challenge, people were encouraged to cook chicken with NyQuil, an over the counter (OTC) drug that cures the nighttime symptoms of the common cold and flu. This is in response to a viral TikTok video of a man frying two chicken breasts in the cold and flu medication.

Rachel Yim, Science & Technology Reporter

Peer pressure and social media trends — particularly when they involve the misuse of medications — can be a harmful combination for many people. 

As part of a recent social media video challenge, people were encouraged to cook chicken with NyQuil, an over the counter (OTC) drug that cures the nighttime symptoms of the common cold and flu. This is in response to a viral TikTok video of a man frying two chicken breasts in the cold and flu medication.

Although the “NyQuil Chicken Challenge” has gained popularity on TikTok as of late, the picture of chicken covered with NyQuil has been circulating online for years.

Tristan Depew, a Twitter user, shared a picture of chicken in NyQuil in 2017 along with a caption, “If she cooks you NyQuil chicken… do NOT let her go.” Despite being a joke and without asking that others follow and eat the chicken, the tweet’s image immediately became viral, and turned into a trend.

Other reactions on social media include:

“Thanks for the new recipe @NyQuilDayQuil !!! My chicken is going to be a knockout!!!” by @Congress Duke.

“I tried the new NyQuil chicken recipe yesterday because I was feeling under the weather and now I feel more sick now :(”by @Anthony_pichu.

“The challenge sounds silly and unappetizing – and it is,” the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Sept. 15. “But it could also be very unsafe.”

The FDA further explained that boiling the medication makes it more dangerous because it can change its concentration. Even if people don’t eat it, cooking it creates vapors that could cause high levels of the drug to enter the body and hurt the lungs.

The #sleepychicken challenge has already received a warning from TikTok. Users on the app are confronted with the following text when searching for related videos: “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.”

Some social media users also claim that it was not something people were actually starting to eat all the time, and it wasn’t on the mainstream radar until the FDA released a warning last week that referenced the practice as being at the center of a dangerous “recent social media challenge,” firing the trend.

Although it is unclear to what extent users sharing content about the phenomenon actually participated in the “trend,” these video challenges that frequently target young people can cause harm, and even result in death. These difficulties become considerably riskier given that OTC medications are widely available in many homes and can offer serious risks when misused or abused.

Whether good or bad that more people are now aware of the “NyQuil Chicken Challenge,” it still remains important to not rely on social media to gain information about drugs and thoroughly read the Drug Facts Label when taking OTC drugs. This ensures individuals are taking the medication properly and will prevent misuse that can cause serious health issues.