Bananas Foster burns four diners

Bananas Foster, safely extinguished, from Brennan's in New Orleans.

Bananas Foster, safely extinguished, from Brennan's in New Orleans.

Four diners were burned, one of them severely, when a bananas Foster desert erupted in out-of-control flames at a Ozona Blue, a Palm Harbor, Florida restaurant. The dessert, bananas sauteed in butter and sugar and ignited with rum, burst into large blaze as the server poured 151-proof liquor into the hot pan.

A 25-year-old school teacher was most severely injured and is being treated for third-degree burns. The fire investigators' report stated that "additional alcohol was added to the flaming contents" in the dish, sparking a "sudden burst of flames" that quickly spread.

Might the terrible accident have been prevented?


The St. Petersburg Times notes that some bananas Foster recipes caution cooks to pour the flammable liquor from a separate cup, not the bottle. In fact, Bacardi 151 rum bottles carry a warning label that states, "Do not use this product for flaming dishes," and the spouts feature a "flame arrester" to prevent fires.

The paper also points out a few other cases where flambeed dishes and drinks caused injuries:

A California woman in 1999 suffered third-degree burns when a server prepared Cherries Jubilee tableside at a steak house. A woman in London was seriously burned in 2005 when a flaming Portuguese sausage dish exploded after it was topped with rum. And a 5-year-old girl and her 8-year-old sister were burned in Arizona in 2006 when alcohol in a hollowed-out "onion volcano" was ignited at a Japanese restaurant.

Some incidents have proved deadly. In 1996, a waitress died after suffering severe burns at a Dublin wedding reception when an open liquor bottle caught fire as staff prepared a flaming Baked Alaska. And in 1979, an 81-year-old Coral Gables woman died after she was set afire by flaming Cherries Jubilee at a country club.

So whether you're indulging in the delicious dessert at home or at a restaurant-- Seven the Steakhouse in Minneapolis serves an excellent version--be sure to use caution.