All gases supplied for use in the hospitality industry for beverages are classified as food and must be compliant with food legislation, principally the Food Safety Act.
Food grade gases are used during the production process and for the dispense of beverages. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and CO2 / Nitrogen (N2) mixture gases, along with their associated equipment, are routinely used. Good quality gas is essential for serving the product in the way that the drinks supplier intended. Some typical uses for food gases include:
The gases do more than provide propulsion from the keg to the tap, they also preserve the ‘fizz’, which is a significant contributor to taste and mouth-feel and hence to customer satisfaction and loyalty. Getting the gas mixture and pressure correct maintains the equilibrium in the keg and ensures the most efficient use of the dispense system.
Food gases have to be supplied in approved gas cylinders which are filled with a gas manufactured to a food specification. The cylinders must have appropriate labelling, identifying the gas as being of a food specification, including having batch labels for traceability. All premises that are involved in the filling and distribution of food gases must be registered with their Local Authority as a Food Premises.
Guidance on food legislation is available in BCGA GN 14.
Find a BCGA member here.
BCGA members are recognised as legitimate suppliers of food gases and, along with other reputable suppliers, follow the required legislation and conform to current best practice guidelines, such as BCGA CP 32, when filling gas cylinders with a food grade gas for use in beverage dispense. However, there are other companies in the UK, who operate to somewhat lower standards!
Ensure your gas supplier is a legitimate and reputable distributor of food gases. The Brewing, Food and Beverage Industry Suppliers Association (BFBi) operate a ‘Gas Suppliers Accreditation Scheme’, and manage a ‘Register of Gas Fillers, Suppliers & Installers’. This scheme is designed to provide assurance to retailers that the food grade gas they buy is from an accredited supplier and that it is fit for purpose.
All gas cylinders should be stored in a well ventilated, secure area. Guidance on storing food gas cylinders is available in BCGA GN 30 with more comprehensive information in BCGA CP 44. BCGA GN 30 provides guidance and advice to those who need to handle, use and store food gases for beverage dispense. It addresses safety and operational issues associated with food gases, their use in cellars and beverage dispense pressure systems. The document covers cylinder identification, handling, use, corrosion prevention and product quality, and has been developed in consultation with the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and the BFBi.
BCGA have produced two posters, for display at the workplace, including the cellar, to help publicise the hazards of incorrectly obtaining, storing and using beverage gases. These posters can be downloaded below.
Keep your cylinders secure. Particular care should be taken when gas cylinders are delivered or are located ready for collection. Only return gas cylinders back to their rightful owner. The owners name will be marked on the cylinder. For food grade gases this is normally either the gas supplier or the brewer. More information on the return and disposal of gas cylinders can be found on our cylinder recovery and disposal webpage.
Pubs, clubs and events need adequate Professional Indemnity and Product Liability insurances, which can be rendered void if they do not use their gases and look after their gas cylinders in a safe and responsible way. Have you told your insurers what gases you have and what you do with them?
The use of such cylinders may be simply poor quality beer, but it could also be much more serious, with catastrophic cylinder failure a real possibility. Corroded gas cylinders can fail dramatically, causing huge damage, injury and even fatality!
Whilst your cylinder may look in a reasonable condition, it is very important to check that:
BCGA TIS 6 provides useful guidance on labels and cylinder test rings.
BCGA Leaflet 10 provides advice for licensees when choosing a food grade gas in a good quality gas cylinder.
BCGA works closely with other Trade Associations such as the BBPA and the BFBi. We have jointly produced BCGA Leaflet 10, to encourage the safe use of gas cylinders and to raise awareness of the quality of food gas required in the hospitality industry. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and Local Authorities have all welcomed BCGA Leaflet 10.
BCGA will continue to support efforts to eradicate the unsafe and illegal supply of food gas cylinders.
All staff handling or using gas cylinders are required to have been given adequate information, instruction and training. Topics to be covered includes manual handling, storage requirements, an adequate knowledge of the beverage gas dispense system and the connection and disconnection of individual cylinders. Staff must be aware of the properties of the individual gases and safety data sheets must be available for all gases held.
Training should include information on working in a confined space and the actions to be taken in the event of gas leakage or any likely incident involving gas cylinders. A presentation to assist with training staff on food gases used in beverage dispense, is available here.
All gases, with the exception of oxygen, can kill by asphyxiation. An enriched carbon dioxide atmosphere can be intoxicating. The risk from these hazards is increased in any location where there is inadequate ventilation, such as an enclosed or confined space.
Food gas cylinders are often stored in a cellar, many of which are classed as a confined space. All storage areas shall be subject to a risk assessment. Where it is identified that the storage area is a confined space, a specific confined space risk assessment must be carried out. Appropriate controls must be implemented as part of a safe system of work to protect all persons who may enter the space.
Within BCGA, food gases are the responsibility of Technical Sub-Committee (TSC) 5. Members can access information on TSC5 via the Committee Meetings page.
BCGA provide several publications which include advice on managing gas cylinders safely. All BCGA publications are accessible via the Publications page.
This Code of Practice addresses the safety, quality and operational issues necessary for the filling of gas cylinders with food gases for beverage dispense. The document covers safe filling practices, cylinder identification, handling, corrosion prevention and product quality.Go To Download Page
This document defines the principles of safe practice for the storage of gas cylinders and bundles. It promotes the use of an outdoor store, with good natural ventilation, in a secure location, which meets the required separation distances.Go To Download Page
All gases, unless they contain sufficient oxygen, can kill by asphyxiation. Enriched carbon dioxide atmospheres can be intoxicating. The risk from these hazards is increased in any location where there is inadequate ventilation, such as an enclosed or confined space. The Confined Spaces Regulations require that a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is carried out and appropriate controls are put in place, through a safe system of work, to protect those who are required to access a confined space.Go To Download Page
Provides advice to producers and suppliers of food gases on how to comply with the Food Safety Regulations. Companies that supply gases for food use have to meet specific legal obligations and are required to ensure food safety. The Guidance Note includes coverage of the production and supply of food gases in bulk, the use of cylinders and other transportable receptacles, dry ice production and supply, and the supply or use of on-site gas generators.Go To Download Page
Provides guidance to those who need to handle, use and store beverage gases. Addresses safety and operational issues associated with beverage gases, their use in cellars and beverage dispense pressure systems. The document covers cylinder identification, handling, use, corrosion prevention and product quality.Go To Download Page
The use of gases is common in the leisure and catering industries. However, gases are hazardous and the user of the gases has a duty of care to all those who may be affected by their activities and they have to take all necessary safety measures to control all risks.Go To Download Page
An explanation of the content of a typical gas cylinder label and a guide to the colour codes used on gas cylinders.Go To Download Page
A safety checklist for those who purchase gas cylinders containing food quality gases for beverage dispense and/or manage those cylinders in the cellar.Go To Download Page
Provides guidance to licensees on choosing safe cylinders providing the correct quality gas for use in beverage dispense.Go To Download Page
Gas Suppliers Equipment Code of Practice.Go To Download Page