Viral 'sleepy chicken' social media cooking challenge is dangerous, FDA warns

Credit: TikTok/PA

Cooking chicken in cough medicine is not only "silly" and "unappetising", but "dangerous", the US Food and Drug Administration has warned.

The warning comes after reports that teenagers are cooking chicken in cough medicine as part of the so-called "sleepy chicken" challenge on TikTok.

The challenge encourages people to cook chicken in NyQuil - which contains acetaminophen, dextromethorphan and doxylamine - or another similar over-the-counter cough and cold medication, according to the FDA.

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

"Even if you don’t eat the chicken, inhaling the medication’s vapours while cooking could cause high levels of the drugs to enter your body. It could also hurt your lungs."

The FDA asks parents to keep medicine away from children.

"Sit down with your children and discuss the dangers of misusing drugs and how social media trends can lead to real, sometimes irreversible, damage," the federal agency adds.

"Remind your children that overdoses can occur with over-the-counter drugs as well as with prescription drugs."

The FDA released a video warning people against dangerous social media food trends

The "sleepy chicken" challenge isn't the first time the social media platform has been used to promote potentially harmful challenges.

An earlier TikTok challenge urged people to take large doses of the allergy medicine diphenhydramine to try and induce hallucinations. In 2020, a number of hospitalisations - and the death of a 15-year-old girl in the US - were reportedly caused by the trend.

Online publication TechCrunch dismissed the FDA's "sleepy chicken" warning as "blown out of proportion" and causing unnecessary "widespread panic", saying that most TikTok users have responded to the challenge with disgust, rather than encouragement.

ITV News has reached out to TikTok for comment.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know