Monday, 2 July 2018

The Drinking Man's Crumpet**

There is a shortage of carbon dioxide throughout Europe. This has surprised many people - I mean, doesn't everyone of us breathe in oxygen and then breathe out CO? 
But there is a shortage- because the manufacturing plants which produce it usually scale back over the summer. It is a by product of the ammonia production used in the fertiliser industry. At this time of the year, the factories scale back, and machinery undergoes maintenance, ready for the late summer/autumn when demand for fertiliser increases.
But this year there has been a problem - because there's been excessive demand for the gas. It is used, among other things

  • to aid production of fizzy drinks [beer, cola, Irn Bru etc] both to add fizz, and to purge the production tanks 
  • to extend the shelf life of foods - it helps preserve your holey crumpets, and produce 'modified atmosphere packaging' in bags of lettuce
  • to make dry ice, another product used to keep chilled food fresher for longer
  • to stun animals humanely at the slaughterhouses 
  • to help manufacture semiconductors and circuit boards
  • to fill fire extinguishers for use on electrical or oil-based fires
  • to help in certain medical procedures [insufflation during endoscopy and arthroscopy etc]
Whilst I could live happily for the rest of my life without beer or coca cola, make my own crumpets and buy fresh market lettuces not wrapped in plastic, I recognise these things matter to others. Especially those who are celebrating wins/commiserating losses at football. Some beer companies have already halted production, and Warburtons are warning about crumpet shortages.
I am more concerned that animals may be suffering [this is not the place for a vegetarian/carnivore debate] that hospitals may have to delay operations, and that safety equipment may not be delivered on time. Throughout our corner of Europe, there are only two companies working to make this gas, both near Manchester.

Supplies are due to run out on Tuesday - already abattoirs in Scotland are very concerned. Pigs are being transported - in this stifling heat- to English slaughterhouses.
Let us hope for a resolution of this situation soon, for the sake of animal welfare, if nothing else. 
[**Manchester-born Joan Bakewell was unavailable for comment]


  1. I had heard about this being a problem in Europe but haven't heard anything about it being an issues over here as yet - I will have to look it up!

  2. I had no idea!!! A pity the CO2 from planes waste couldn't be collected and used what with all the carbon emission issues!


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