Dry Ice for Covid Vaccines Worries Wisconsin Cheese Makers

Dec. 23, 2020
Lack of the super-cold ice could imperil the cultures behind cheese, yogurt and other products.

The dry ice that has become an essential part of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout has cheese makers in Wisconsin worried about a shortage for their own use.

In a Dec. 9 letter to federal and state officials, the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association "calls on federal and state officials to safeguard a necessary supply of dry ice – 350,000 pounds per week – to ensure the uninterrupted global production of dairy products."

Noting that dry ice is used to keep dairy cultures in a super-frozen state to be viable, the association said Wisconsin companies alone need 350,000 pounds each week. The group also expressed concern for other domestic dairy products and the global dairy industry. "Major manufacturers in Wisconsin – Chr. Hansen, DSM Food Specialties USA and DuPont Nutrition and Health – produce the majority of the world’s supply of dairy cultures, a necessary ingredient in the production of cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products."

Dry ice has become a key carrier for the millions of Covid-19 vaccines being distributed. "Vaccines currently in development rely on genetic material which must be kept at an extremely cold temperature, approximately -80 degrees Celsius, to remain viable," the association acknowledged.

The letter did not suggest any particular response, but noted, "As the U.S. plans for critical new demands on the nation’s dry ice supply, 350,000 pounds of dry ice per week must be reserved for use by the dairy industry, which is responsible not only for $620 billion in economic impact in the United States, but also for feeding the world each day."

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