A Government minister has insisted there is no threat to gas supplies in the UK this winter - amid mounting fears of an impending frozen food crisis.

There have been growing concerns from the food industry that CO2 gas shortages could hit food production within the next fortnight after the sharp rise in the wholesale price of natural gas.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has been holding crisis talks with the energy sector to discuss the issues amid the soaring prices.

READ MORE: The Government's winter plan for tackling coronavirus

Following the meetings, Cop26 President Alok Sharma has today said the public should be reassured there is no immediate cause for concern.

Alok Sharma

“The clear message that is coming out of this is that there is no immediate concern in terms of supply, we don’t see any risks going into the winter,” he told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme.

“People should be confident that the supplies will be there and that we will be protecting them in terms of price rises.

"But of course we are not complacent about this.”

Carbon dioxide is an integral part of the packaging, supply and refrigeration process for meat and other fresh produce - and in the transportation of frozen goods.

Empty shelves are being seen more often amid a number of issues for the food industry

And there are warnings across the industry that if the gas supply is interrupted it would lead to "breaking point" at many factories already struggling with ongoing labour shortages.

On the issue of energy supply, shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, Pat McFadden, also speaking on Sky News's Trevor Philips on Sunday, said: “This really must act as a spur to avoid situations like this where suddenly we’re very exposed when there’s an international price spike.

“In the short term what the Business Secretary must do is ensure continuity of supply, that’s a basic duty of Government for both domestic consumers and for businesses.

“We’ve seen other ramifications of this over the last 24/48 hours, for example on food supplies, with CO2 being a necessary by-product, and in the long-term what this has shown is the need to get on with the transition to net-zero and the vulnerability of the reliance on fossil fuel markets, especially international ones.

“This should act as a spur to get on with the transition to net-zero, more renewable and sustainable supplies because the effect of all this will be rising prices for consumers just when they’re being hit with other things too.”

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Mr McFadden argued the issue “should have been foreseen”.

He told Sky News: “Certainly the direction of travel must be that we decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, we increase our use of renewables.”

On new fossil fuel projects, he said: “The bar should be high for that and there has to be a very convincing case given the overall arc of where we’ve got to get to on 2030, so I don’t think these things should be approved on the nod in the way that they would have been in the past, because that’s not the future.

“The future is renewables and sustainable energy and that’s where we’ve got to get to.”

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