Beverage Dispense Gases

The use of food gases in the beverage and hospitality industries

The use of gases for beer and other drinks is widespread in the UK. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and CO2 / Nitrogen (N2) mixture gases, along with their associated equipment, are routinely used within beverage dispense. Typical uses for gases include:

CO2 for soft drinks and lagers
Various gas mixtures for premium lagers, ciders, stouts and smoothflow bitters

The gases do more than merely impart ‘fizz’ and propulsion from the keg. They are significant contributors to taste and mouth-feel and hence to customer satisfaction and loyalty. CO2 works to keep keg contents sterile, getting the gas mixture and pressure correct maintains the equilibrium in the keg and ensures the most efficient use of the dispense system.

All gases supplied for use in the beverage and hospitality industries are classified as food and are covered by the Food Safety Act. Food gases have to be supplied in approved gas containers, be filled with gas manufactured to a food specification and the cylinders have to have appropriate labelling, identifying the gas as being of a food specification and including batch labels for traceability. All premises that are involved in the filling and distribution of food gases have to be registered with their Local Authority as a Food Premises.

Guidance on food legislation is available in BCGA GN 14, avalable to download below.

Publications

GN14 Production, storage, transport and supply of gases for use in food. Revision 2: 2015

1842 Guidance Notes GN14

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.

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Safety of dispense gases

Many BCGA members offer food gases for beverage dispense and provide a wide range of supporting services and equipment to the drinks dispense market.

All BCGA members are recognised as legitimate suppliers and, along with several other reputable suppliers, follow the required legislation and conform to current best practice guidelines, such as BCGA CP 32 for the filling of gas cylinders with food gases for beverage dispense. However, there are over 100 fillers in the UK, who offer to fill gas cylinders with food gases, some of whom operate to somewhat lower standards. Ensure your gas supplier is a legitimate and reputable distributor of dispense 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 beverage gas they buy is from an accredited supplier and that it is fit for purpose.

All gas cylinders should be stored in a secure area. 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?

Particular care should be taken when gas cylinders are located ready for delivery/collection. Guidance on storing food gas cylinders is 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. Additionally, 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.

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Beverage Dispense Gases

Licensees are under immense cost pressures, with competition from other leisure activities and greater consumption of alcohol in the home. Sadly, because gas cylinders are easily moved, they can be ‘attractive’ items for thieves.

As such they are often misappropriated and misused. Only return gas cylinders back to their rightful owner, for beverage gases this is normally either the gas supplier or the brewer. Information on the return and disposal of gas cylinders can be found on the cylinder recovery and disposal page.

Increasingly, outlets are being targeted by seemingly attractive offers from non-reputable suppliers of dispense gas. By flouting the law they trade by offering cheap ‘beverage’ gas to pubs. Do not be tempted as the consequences of this are:

  • One cylinder of bad dispense gas will ruin up to 10 kegs of beer.
  • You will lose customers through poor beer quality.
  • Your supplier will refuse compensation claims.
  • You will be at risk of prosecution for being in breach of several laws. e.g. Health and Safety at Work etc. Act; Food Regulations; Carriage of Dangerous Goods (CDG) Regulations.

Some of the problems associated with non-reputable suppliers include cylinders incorrectly filled; not adequately checked for food grade gas quality; filled with the wrong gas (e.g. compressed air instead of N2) or allowed to become unsafe from internal corrosion and/or being out of test. The result may be simply poor quality beer, but could also be much more serious, with catastrophic cylinder failure a real possibility.

Corroded food gas cylinders can explode dramatically, causing huge damage, injury and even fatality. Whilst your cylinder may be in good condition, it is very important to ensure:

  • It has a label displaying information on the contents and the gas supplier.
  • It has a food traceability label.
  • The valve outlet is sealed.
  • The cylinder is in date for its inspection and test (check the cylinder test rings).

BCGA works closely with other Trade Associations such as the BBPA and the BFBi to ensure the safety and quality of gases and their gas cylinders. Jointly we have produced BCGA L10, which provides information on obtaining the right quality dispense gas in a serviceable and legal gas cylinder. The HSE, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and Local Authorities have welcomed BCGA L10.

BCGA will continue to support efforts to eradicate the unsafe and illegal supply of food gas cylinders.

Training

All staff handling or using gas cylinders are required to have had adequate training. This includes manual handling, connecting and disconnecting cylinders, a knowledge of the beverage gas dispense system and the properties of the individual gases and their appropriate storage requirements and Safety Data Sheets are to be available for all gases held. The 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.

Confined space risks and regulations

All gases, with the exception of 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.

Landlords, event organisers and those responsible for beverage gases should be alert to the hazards associated with storing and using gases within a confined space. Legislation requires 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 the area. BCGA GN 9 offers guidance on the application of the Confined Spaces Regulations where beverage dispense gases are located.

The use of liquid nitrogen, liquid CO2 and dry ice

Pubs, clubs and events are venues where, sometimes, people fool around with gases. This can be by inhalation, or to produce dramatic effects in cocktail drinks.

BCGA L 7 explains the dangers of misusing gases and the potential hazards that can occur if gases are used irresponsibly, while BCGA TIS 7 provides guidelines for the safe transportation, storage, use and disposal of solid carbon dioxide (dry ice).

Committees

Within BCGA food gases are the responsibility of Technical Sub-Committee (TSC) 5. BCGA participate in the Beverage Gases Working Group, this includes representation from the DfTHSE, the BBPA and BFBi. Members can access information on TSC5 and the Beverage Gases Working Group via the meetings page.

Publications

Publications

CP32 The safe filling of food gas cylinders for beverage dispense. Revision 3: 2019

1713 Codes of Practice CP32

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.

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CP42 Implementation of EIGA Carbon Dioxide Standards. Revision 3: 2020

1759 Codes of Practice CP42

This publication implements the documents published by the European Industrial Gases Association to provide a basis for quality assurance of the carbon dioxide (CO2) supply chain in a consistent manner and to ensure measures for verification are adopted and maintained across UK industry.

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CP44 The storage of gas cylinders. 2016

1766 Codes of Practice CP44

This document defines the principles of safe practice for the storage of gas cylinders and bundles. It promotes the use of an external store, in a secure location, with good natural ventilation and away from any sources of ignition.

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GN9 The application of the confined spaces regulations to beverage dispense. Revision 3: 2020

1820 Guidance Notes GN9

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

GN14 Production, storage, transport and supply of gases for use in food. Revision 2: 2015

1842 Guidance Notes GN14

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

GN30 The safe use of gases in the beverage dispense industry. Revision 1: 2017

1914 Guidance Notes GN30

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.

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GN33 The safe use of gases for leisure and catering. 2021

1929 Guidance Notes GN33

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.

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TIS7 Guidelines for the safe transportation, storage, use and disposal of solid carbon dioxide (dry ice). Revision 3: 2021

1945 Technical Information Sheets TIS7

Information and safety advice on all aspects of handling and using solid carbon dioxide (dry ice).

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TIS9 Gas safety in the hospitality industry. Revision 3: 2018

1953 Technical Information Sheets TIS9

A safety checklist for those who purchase gas cylinders containing food quality gases for beverage dispense and/or manage those cylinders in the cellar.

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L7 The dangers of misusing gases. Revision 4: 2016

1891 Leaflets L7

Highlights the dangers of misusing gases and the potential hazards that can occur if gases are used irresponsibly.

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L10 Profit through quality. Good gas, good business. Revision 3: 2016

1900 Leaflets L10

Provides guidance to licensees on choosing safe cylinders providing the correct quality gas for use in beverage dispense.

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BFBi

2374

Gas Suppliers Equipment Code of Practice.

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To find out more about the safe use of food gases used in beverage dispense, keep your employees safe and ensure your customers get the quality drinks that the brewer intended. For more information see our Beverage Dispense Gas Services page.