Through a notification dated 11 October 2019 the FSSAI has issued an advisory on handling of dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) as a cooling agent for food products.
Dry ice which is the solid form of carbon dioxide is commonly used as a cooling agent for food products like ice-cream, frozen desserts etc. It is specially used for those food products that need to be cold or frozen, without the use of mechanical cooling. Dry use requires proper handling because if it is not handled properly it can endanger human health. If it sublimes into large quantities of carbon dioxide gas it could cause breathlessness or hypercapnia. This is the reason that dry ice should be used or exposed to open air in a well-ventilated environment.
The FSSAI has therefore, advised that when using dry ice as a cooling agent for food products it shall not be kept, stored or transported in a closed environment as in a closed environment it could cause carbon dioxide gas emission leading to breathlessness in people. All precautions must be taken to ensure that the area where dry ice is being used must be properly ventilated to avoid any such health risk.
The FSSAI has also asked the Food Safety Officers in all States and UTs to initiate a systematic campaign to generate awareness among Food Business Operators as well as the general public about the safe handling of dry as a cooling agent in food products. Unlike ice made with water, dry ice does not melt into liquid rather it
About Dry Ice
Dry Ice is preferred as a cooling agent as it has an extremely cool temperature and is used to send frozen items from one place to the another and the frozen foods remain frozen. Not only will the frozen food reach intact but there will be no liquid remainder which is normally left behind with ice made from water.
Dangers of Dry Ice
Besides breathlessness dry ice can also cause frost bite if the extremely cold dry ice comes into contact with the skin. When handling Dry Ice one must wear thick gloves or use tongs when handling it. It would be advisable not use dry ice in drinks and beverages as it can be accidently swallowed and that could create health problems like causing internal frostbite.
It is very important to store or transport Dry Ice in a well- ventilated room or vehicle because if the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air rises above 5%, because of sublimation, the high concentration of carbon dioxide can then become toxic and cause health issues.
Dry Ice per se is not explosive but it can exert pressure inside the container when it changes from solid state to gas and can rupture the container when it is opened. Therefore, never use dry ice in a bottle or jar instead you must use a paper bag for transporting any food products or storing them in.