Running a busy catering business has many demands that need to be met. Not only do you need to provide the best service to your customers, but you must also ensure that your premises and in particular, your kitchen, is up to standard. However, sometimes, with the demands of a busy business, some of these routines can be delayed or missed such as dealing with the way you handle fats and grease.
With Spring fast approaching, it is the ideal time to review procedures like your grease cleaning schedule and see what measures need to be improved.
Why is Reviewing Grease Management Procedures Important?
All areas of a busy kitchen need to be closely monitored and regularly reviewed. Not only is this important for the health and safety of your customers and staff, but it is also a legal requirement under HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points).
It is vital that all the equipment that is used in the kitchen is cleaned effectively to remove fat and grease. It also ensures that any risk of fire is greatly reduced due to residual fat or grease.
The best way to ensure that fat and grease is removed responsibly is to set up a Grease Management Procedure that can then be used by your staff. This procedure sets out the cleaning schedules needed, what cleaning substances can be used, and when oils should be changed and disposed of safely.
There are several areas of the kitchen that need to be monitored, not just for cleaning purposes, but also to ensure the procedures are followed during cooking and washing up.
One of the most important pieces of equipment in the kitchen when it comes to grease management is the grease trap. The Water Industry Act 1991 stipulates that it is a criminal offence to permit anything to enter the drainage system that may impede the natural flow of the water. If you allow fat and oils to enter the drainage system, this can cause blockages. These blockages are also an offence under the Food Safety Act 1990, so it is vital that you ensure you have a grease trap fitted, and that it is properly maintained.
A grease trap is attached to the wastewater outlet from the kitchen area and is used to separate out fat and oils from the water. Periodically, the grease trap needs to be emptied and the waste matter disposed of in the correct way.
It is important that workers do not treat the grease trap as a food disposal unit, and remove food and residual sauces and oils from plates and equipment before washing.
Food that leaves oil is common in a restaurant because of dressings and the cooking process in general. However, this oil should be kept out of the grease trap and indeed the kitchen pipework and drains whenever possible. If there is a substantial amount of oil, then this needs to be disposed of in a food waste bin before the plates or equipment is rinsed and washed. Any that does make its way down the sink should be intercepted by your grease trap and prevented from travelling further into the drainage system.
Cooker and Fryer Oil
The oil that is used in a fryer or a cooker needs to be changed periodically to ensure it remains clean and fresh for the customer. Disposing of the waste oil is important, as it must be removed and processed in the correct way.
There are many commercial recycling companies that will take your used oil away and dispose of it safely. Used oil must be poured into sealed containers and stored safely until it is collected. This includes any oil or FOG collected by your grease trap and removed during routine cleaning and maintenance.
Any food that may be left on a plate, must not be washed down the drain. This can cause a blockage in the wastewater system and lead to problems with the grease traps and drainage systems in general.
Food should be scraped from plates and cooking equipment into a bin or compost container where it can be safely collected and disposed of according to local requirements. Any residual sauce or oil from dressings should be wiped from the plates with a paper towel before being rinsed and loaded into the warewasher.
There should also be a drain cover placed in all the sinks so that food particles are trapped before going down the drain.
Part of the grease management procedure is to regularly carry out a cleaning schedule in the kitchen. This is important for many reasons:
- To eliminate the risk of fire from grease and oil near cooking equipment.
- To ensure no contaminants are left on surfaces
- To prevent the build-up of bacteria
- To stop any fats, oils and grease (FOG) from entering drains
The cleaning schedule needs to take into account all areas of the kitchen where oil or grease may collect. This includes:
- Fans and Cooking Hoods
- Under cookers and storage units
- Ovens and fryers
- Grease traps
Surfaces can be cleaned with hot water with detergent, and then cleaned with a disinfectant to ensure bacteria is not present.
Cookers and ovens will need to be cleaned with a degreasing agent. It is important to follow the instructions carefully to prevent damage to the equipment.
Grease traps need to be cleaned when they are a maximum of 25% full in order to remain effective at trapping FOG. This can be carried out in-house or by a professional depending on the type and size of grease trap installed.
The cleaning schedule needs to be regularly updated and records kept so that any inspectors that check your kitchen can see that regular cleaning is taking place.
Top Tip: Remember that the water used to wash any greasy surfaces will have an element of grease in it afterwards. If disposing of this water down the sink, an element of FOG will go with it. Make sure you have a grease trap in place to catch this waste.
One of the most important parts of the grease management process is staff training. It is important that all staff that work in the kitchen are suitably trained to follow the procedures so that you can maintain a clean and safe kitchen. Some of the areas staff will need training are:
- Food safety, so that they cook and prepare food correctly
- How to use cooking equipment in the kitchen so that they are safe and no contamination occurs
- Personal hygiene rules such as wearing hair covering and washing of hands
- Learning the cleaning procedures and knowing which cleaning chemicals to use in what areas of the kitchen.
- Understanding the importance of grease management with regards to FOG.
This training may need to be reviewed and refreshed if there are changes in the legislation if a new piece of equipment is installed and indeed with every new start employee.
Running a commercial kitchen requires a lot of organisation and discipline to make it work efficiently. By training your staff to follow procedures and ensuring they are kept up to date, you can help keep your business compliant and safe.