Parents, talk to your children about the dangers of social media trends involving medicine – like combining Nyquil and chicken breasts to treat cold and flu symptoms – the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urged.

The so-called sleepy chicken trend shows some users pouring up to a half a bottle of cold or flu medicine onto chicken breasts as a marinade, before boiling the concoction for 30 minutes. 

In the words of my 12-year old nephew, who also functions as my metaverse expert, when I described the trend: "That's a terrible idea. It's stupid."

The FDA agrees.

“The challenge sounds silly and unappetizing — and it is. But it could also be very unsafe. Boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways. 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. Put simply: Someone could take a dangerously high amount of the cough and cold medicine without even realizing it,” read the FDA warning on its website.

In addition to these concerns, sleepy chicken poses food safety risks. Some of the videos depict users boiling chicken breasts for only five minutes, which is not long enough to prevent foodborne illnesses like Salmonella.

The FDA also cautioned against a similar TikTok challenge where people consumed larger than necessary amounts of the allergy medicine Benadryl to induce hallucinogens. This dangerous trend is responsible for the hospitalizations of at least three teens and the death of a 15-year-old girl.

To prevent these potentially harmful trends, the FDA recommends that parents keep both over the counter and prescription drugs in a safe place and regularly have discussions with children about the dangers of misusing drugs.

“Social media trends and peer pressure can be a dangerous combination to your children and their friends, especially when involving misusing medicines,” the FDA said.

The role of social media

The sleepy chicken trend – as disgusting as it is – highlights the important role social media plays in the lives of consumers. 

“Some of us love it and others hate it. But let’s be real, it needs to be part of our strategy. Because that where they’re spending time,” Danette Amstein, co-founder and managing principal, Midan Marketing, said at the 2022 Chicken Marketing Summit.

Can chicken marketers find a safe way to use this trend? What if they made food safety videos that showcased how long a chicken really needs to be cooked to prevent foodborne illnesses? Or creating videos or collaborations that promote (properly cooked) chicken as the ultimate sick day food?

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