A SHORTAGE of Carbon Dioxide has brought Britain’s crumpet production to a grinding halt.
But why do you need Carbon Dioxide to make crumpets, and will crumpets ever be made in Britain again? Here’s our lowdown…
CO2 – or carbon dioxide – is used to package baked goods and extend the shelf life.
But a serious European shortage has mean that Warburtons are producing “nowhere near” the 1.5million crumpets it normally makes every week.
The bakery has had to stop making crumpets at two out of four its factories, and limited production at a third site, because of short supply.
A spokesperson said: “This [shortage] will remain the case until the CO2 supply returns to normal.
“But, rest assured we are working really hard to keep our products on Britain’s shelves.”
What else is CO2 used for?
THE clear odourless gass is a byproduct of ammonia and has plenty of uses.
Food and drink
CO2 is used to change the atmosphere that food is packaged in to extend the shelf life of fresh meat and salads.
About 60 per cent of slaughter houses rely on it to stun and kill pig and poultry too.
It’s also used to carbonate liquid and make them fizzy, like pop including Coke and Pepsi, as well as beers like largar.
The drinks industry use it to bottle and keg the beer too.
The gas is also used to treat water and make it safe to drink.
Thanks to its steralising capabilities, it’s used to clean and steralise equiptment at hospitals.
It’s also used on patients in some invasive surgery, like in an endoscopy.
The gas is also sometimes given to patients during and after they have had general anasthetic if they have difficulty breathing.
Fire extinguishers and oil industry
Fires feed on oxygen and when there’s CO2 in the air there is less of it to burn. Thanks to this property, it’s used in fire extinguishers to put them out.
It’s used to extract oil too from reserves by pushing the oil through pipes when it’s put under high pressure.
How are we running out of gas?
The current shortage of gas is because too many factories have shut at the same time across Europe.
It’s also because the high price of natural gas means production has been limited in the UK.
In addition to this a fall in global ammonia prices means it has been cheaper for British fertiliser producers to buy in ammonia from abroad instead of producing it in the UK.
Amid all of these factors, only one of the plants in the UK is operational.
Food and drink suppliers rely on the British based plants as the gas is expensive to import.
What happens if we run out of gas?
This is because carbon dioxide is used to slaughter farm animals, package food and make drinks fizzy.
Nine of the UK’s largest poultry plants are now facing a critical shortage of the gas.
It means that up to 60 per cent of the UK’s poultry processing plants could be knocked-out within days.
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Wetherspoons, which has over 1,000 pubs across the UK, warned that supply of draught lager and fizzy drinks could be cut off within days.
The shortage of gas has been heightened due to warm weather across Europe and World Cup when demand for fizzy drinks and beer is higher than normal.
And Coca-Cola has “temporarily paused” some production due to the national shortage of carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide is also used to create dry ice which keeps food frozen during transportation.