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Tis’ the Season to be Foggy

  1. Proactive Not Reactive
  2. Why Spend Money on a Grease Trap
  3. Refine Kitchen Processes
  4. Brush Up on Housekeeping
  5. Educating the Nation

 

Christmas, widely celebrated as the season for cheer and goodwill to all men, but what about the aftermath of the festivities; those lurking beneath the streets?

It’s a time for decadent menus with lashings of roasties, meats and sauces but also, inevitably, a time for a potential increased output of fats, oils, grease and solids into the public sewer system. Businesses and households are busy rustling up festive feasts but the by-products can be disastrous for pipework.

The possible increase in FOG isn’t the only thing that’s cause for concern; the cold weather doesn’t help matters. Fats, oils and grease solidify more quickly in pipes when the temperature drops during winter (or fatberg season). With detrimental elements all coming together to create a perfect storm…or fatberg, there’s plenty to contend with at this time of year.

With the hospitality and foodservice industry entering one of its busiest times of year, it’s time to refine kitchen grease management procedures and make sure that the only thing getting clogged up this Christmas is Santa as he makes his way down the chimney.

Proactive Not Reactive

Goslyn GOS40 GRU

Don’t wait for the effects of a FOG build-up to make themselves known, either through a back-up of waste or the local authority knocking at your door. Install appropriate grease traps where possible and be part of the solution, not the problem.

With passive (or manual) grease traps, chemical dosing equipment and automatic GRUs (grease recovery units) available there are plenty of options on the market. Each designed to effectively deal with and combat FOG in its own way, there’s an interceptor to cope with any sized kitchen and flow rate. Find out how different traps work and the basic principles to ascertain which is the best option for any foodservice operation.

 

Why Spend Money on a Grease Trap

It’s a valid question. There’s often claims of ‘We operate strict grease management procedures – we don’t put FOG into the system, so why should we pay out?’ Or assumptions that ‘The local water authority would never know we’d caused the problem even if FOG did end up in the public sewer!’ These are dangerous standpoints to take. Unfortunately, the vast majority of businesses will release at least a small amount of FOG into the sewers and water authorities do have their ways to ascertain the source of any blockages. Everyone has a responsibility to do their part.

The price of a grease trap is substantially less than the sewer cleaning costs and potential fines issued if a company is found to be leaking FOG into the drainage system, even if it is done inadvertently.

No Grease Management Process is Infallible

Regardless of how competent staff are with regards to grease management, some FOG will always make its way into the drains albeit in smaller quantities. Whether through sauce residue being rinsed down the sink or grease on cookware not having been thoroughly wiped, it’ssewer inspection surprisingly easy to let some unsavoury substance slip through the net.

Can’t Slip the Sewer Sleuths

Water companies can and will trace the origins of fatbergs. Using a combination of cameras and good old detective skills to follow the FOG trail, they have tried and tested methods to decipher where FOG has entered the sewer - and they will follow up findings. Holding the power to impose warnings and fines as documented in UK legislation, Water Industry Act 1991 subsection 3 they are committed to cleaning up foodservice practices.

Conservation Not Contamination

The impact of FOG on the ecosystem is widely reported and people are more aware than ever of the damage caused, from contamination of local waters to the threat posed to wildlife. By businesses investing in appropriate grease traps this damage can be minimised.

In addition to grease traps there are other potential areas to think about to reduce a business’s environmental impact.

Refine Kitchen Processes

Fats, oils and grease come hand in hand when operating a foodservice business; it’s inevitable. Found in the primary culprits of kitchen oil, residual juices and cooking waste, it’s also hiding in sauces, dressings, spreads and dairy; all common things typically rinsed down the sink.

Cooking Techniques and Equipment

If reconsidering the menu is a bit too much to ask, try refining cooking techniques where possible. Could chefs employ alternative methods, reducing frying where possible or opting to use equipment that conveniently collects or atomises fats and grease such as the Synergy Grill?

Oil Usage and Filtration

Addressing the quantity of oil used in a kitchen can be a great way to reduce potential FOG output. Less oil means less potentially entering the drainage system.

Investing in quality filtration such as Vito is the ideal solution for businesses that use large quantities of oil during cooking such as fish and chip shops and take-aways. Filtration allows it to be reused, extending expected lifespan and decreasing costs.

Brush Up on Housekeeping

When addressing kitchen processes and refining grease management, it’s the perfect time to make sure that general housekeeping in relation to FOG prevention is in order.

Cleaning Traps

Where passive grease traps are installed, it’s vital to carry out regular cleaning. Automatic GRU’s that collect separated FOG should be tended to daily. Giving appropriate care and attention to equipment will guarantee the ongoing productivity and efficiency of grease interceptors.

Storing FOG

Reassess waste oil and FOG storage. All fats, oils and grease should be contained in a suitable airtight receptacle away from food preparation areas and sewer access points. Storing waste near drainage systems means that any accidental spillage could see all the hard work of collecting and securing FOG, literally end up down the drain. All kitchen by-products must be responsibly disposed of by a licensed contractor. For information concerning services in a particular area, get in touch with the local authority.

Breaking News! FOG doesn’t just go down the drainkitchen extraction

Everyone concentrates on the damage that fats, oils and grease do to the sewer system but that shouldn’t be the only area of concern. FOGs also accumulate in extraction systems causing safety issues in the kitchen and potential fire hazards. When considering grease management don’t skip on the cleaning and maintenance of extraction, ventilation and ductwork.

The regularity of cleaning will depend on the level of usage the kitchen experiences.

HVAC Equipment  

Kitchen Usage    

Cleaning Regularity

Ductwork  Light duty (approximate 2-6 hrs p/day Approx. every 12 months
Medium duty (approximate 6-12 hrs p/day Approx. every 6 months
Heavy duty (approximate 12+ hrs p/day Approx. every 3 months
Premises with heavy FOG production will require more frequent cleaning
Extraction Hoods & Filters Recommended daily

*Please Note: Always refer to manufacturers manual which takes precedence*

Educating the Nation

Although people are now more aware of the presence of fatbergs and the causes that contribute to their creation as a result of increased media coverage, there are still some that may not appreciate the full implications.

The UK as a whole currently spends an estimated £80 million every year on clearing fatberg deposits; a massive amount that could be spent elsewhere. Education is the key to tackling this very real issue, on a local and national scale.

Common Misconceptions

Water in sink

‘FOG pours neatly down the sink, how can that become the congealed mass shown on the news?’

FOG, when warm will take on liquid form, slipping easily down drain pipes and into the sewer system. Problems arise when these fats, oils and grease cool: solidifying and mixing with solid waste such as wet wipes, sanitary products and nappies etc. This small inconvenience grows and evolves until it becomes a significant blockage that can take months to clear.

‘I pour hot water down the sink after FOG to flush it through, so I’m not contributing to the problem.’

It’s true that hot water flushes through fats, oils and grease however it just pushes the problem further down the pipes. The hot water keeps FOG in liquid form for longer hence it travels further through the system however even this will cool at some point resulting in the same issues. No fats, oils, grease or solids should enter sewers full stop.

Staff Training is Vital

It’s important that businesses address grease management by investing in appropriate grease intercepting equipment however educating staff about preventative measures and highlighting why strict adherence to procedures is vital, is just as essential to combating fatbergs.

Explaining the consequences and highlighting the wider concerns better illustrates why following grease management processes is critical not only to the business but the environment. The rules are there for a reason.

Basic Rules for Good FOG Prevention

  • Fully scrape plates removing any residual solids, sauces or condiments etc.
  • Dry wipe plates with kitchen towel and dispose of in the bin. This removes any fats, oils and grease that may still be on the plate after scraping.
  • Only when the plate is completely clear, rinse in the pot wash sink where a plug strainer is in position and an appropriate grease trap or grease recovery unit is installed. It’s important to use a strainer in sinks to catch any errant solids.
  • Any FOG from cookware and equipment should be poured into a suitable container and sealed ready for collection.

Top Tip; Consider putting up posters around pot wash areas to remind staff of proper practice and periodically carrying out refresher courses. All grease management should be reconsidered and revised regularly to ensure optimum results are being achieved.

Keep Detailed Documentation

It’s essential (in fact it’s part of legislation; Environmental Protection Act: Duty of Care: Section 34) to document all grease management procedures and keep detailed records. This evidence will be required during inspections.

If a blockage occurs in the local area, businesses should have documented evidence to prove that suitable grease management is in place and that proper processes have been followed.

Everybody’s Problem

It’s not just typical foodservice businesses that need to address practices. Although take-aways are generally considered to be the highest producers of FOG, other premises must also address their operations.  Schools and educational establishments, canteens, hotels, B&B’s (think of all those full English breakfasts), prisons and other correctional facilities must all consider themselves accountable.

Domestic residences may not contribute as much FOG as commercial premises but are still a large factor in sewer blockages. While legislation at present only stipulates commercial properties, domestic addresses should also be aware of the repercussions of their actions. Often disposing of FOG down the sink in the form of sauces, soups, butter, cooking juices and oil etc. and flushing solids other than the recommended ‘3 P’s’ (pee, poo and paper) down the toilet, domestic properties must also sit up and take notice of the situation; not leave it all to the businesses.

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