The food and beverage industry and compressed gases

Compressed gases are an expense you might not think about very often. However, for the food and beverage industry, compressed gases like liquid nitrogen and carbon dioxide ensure health standards are met and operations run smoothly.  

In this article, we look at how compressed gases help power the food and beverage industry.  

Carbon Dioxide (CO2). 

CO2 is the most common compressed gas used in the food and beverage industry. It has a multitude of different applications, including, but not limited to: 

  • Drink production – most obviously, carbonated drinks need CO2 for that fizzy quality many of us enjoy. Carbonation also prevents drinks from spoiling during storage.  
  • Preservation of grains, fruits, and vegetables – when these foodstuffs are harvested and stored, they are often susceptible to pests. Adding CO2 to the facility helps protect them by killing insects or pests without leaving any harmful toxins on the foodstuffs that could impact consumers.  
  • Atmosphere control – adding CO2 to a storage environment through Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) or Controlled Atmosphere Packaging (CAS) also helps keep perishables like fruits and vegetables fresh for a longer period by preventing ripening, toughening, and mold growth.  
  • Livestock slaughter – CO2 is used to immobilize animals before slaughtering. Using CO2 increases the blood pressure of the animals, resulting in better quality meat. 
  • Cryogenic freezing – this method of refrigeration uses CO2 because it’s faster, ensuring that the meat is better preserved without losing taste or texture. Products like meat, fruits, baked goods, dairy products, and more can all be stored with CO2 freezing.  
  • pH level control – CO2 can be used to control the pH level of certain products, such as fruit juices and wines. When CO2 is dissolved in water, it creates carbonic acid, which can be used to adjust the pH level of a product. 

Nitrogen (N2). 

Nitrogen gas is an inexpensive, widely available option for various processes in the food manufacturing and packaging industries. These include:  

  • Atmosphere control – like with CO2, N2 can be added to packaging and manufacturing environments to preserve freshness, protect nutrients, and prevent aerobic microbial growth.  
  • Aeration – nitrogen gas is used in the aeration process, which gives certain foods, like chocolate bars, a special texture and consistency.  
  • Beverage processing – for alcoholic beverages, N2 is often used to regulate the fermentation process, which helps preserve the flavor and aroma of the final product. 
  • Pressurization – a food processing method that inactivates spoilage microorganisms and foodborne pathogens. 

Oxygen (O2). 

Oxygen is an increasingly popular choice in the food and beverage industry due to environmental concerns and evolving regulatory standards. Oxygen is an alternative for several of the previously mentioned applications, including aeration and fermentation.  

Other gases commonly used.  

C02, N2, and O2 may be the most commonly used compressed gases in the food and beverage industry, but they are by no means the only ones used. Others include: 

  • Nitrous oxide as a pressure dispensing agent. 
  • Propane for aeration or propellant. 
  • Iso-butane as a propellant. 
  • Ethylene as a fumigant. 

In conclusion… 

Across all sectors of the food and beverage industry, compressed gases are integral in maintaining quality and safety.