Let’s Clear the FOG’s Together

6th March 2013

Drains can bring businesses to a standstill. When they are blocked, toilets and kitchens cannot be used and management become nervous about a visit from the Environment Agency and of course, customers start to wrinkle their noses and leave. 

No business in the hospitality trade can afford these kind of problems.

The problem is simple, but an effective long term solution is a little more complicated. FOG (fats, oils and grease) is a  by-product of all hot food catering, processing and washing up.

In its raw, unused state, it is hard to visualise how something which appears so harmless, often a free flowing clear yellow liquid, can in fact turn into one of the largest operational nightmares when it has cooled down, solidified and become contaminated.

Often the first time staff notice a problem is when foul and rancid smells waft through the building.  The result can be kitchen closure and even the closure of the entire premises with the threat of action by the Environment Agency.

Ironically, the myriad of operational problems which stem from FOG’s are almost all totally preventable by good kitchen management, together with an appropriate and effective grease management system.

In recent years we have seen an explosion in the pub, restaurant and leisure industry. There has been widespread development of high street and rural restaurant brands, and many wet trade outlets have turned to a food based format.

Many people are under the misapprehension that the problem of FOG is related to chips and burger type catering. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In our drive for healthier eating we forget that grease and fat are natural by-products of both the cooking process, i.e. rotisseries, or as a residue of the actual meal, i.e. butters, sauces and creams.

In our search for a healthier diet we have converted from animal based oils to predominately using vegetable oils which are far more difficult to manage using traditional methods.

Animal fats tend to be heavy and quick to solidify, whilst vegetable oils tend to be lighter and remain viscose even at low temperatures, this can make traditional recovery methods a hit and miss affair.

FOG blocks internal waste pipes, drains, sewers, pumps, pumping stations, sewage treatment plants and the mains sewers. Physically it is a major problem. Environmentally it can be a disaster. As a result, there is pressure to make existing legislation more stringent and onerous.

FOG has been recognised for many years as a significant issue but many of the tools for dealing with it are not sufficient for today’s needs. One of the earliest pieces of legislation dates back to 1936, a time when the volume of FOG disposed of down the drain was insignificant by today’s standards.

The volume of FOG being disposed of into drainage systems is huge. Water Plc Drainage Managers are facing increased maintenance budgets to keep sewers free of FOG. The water companies are now playing a key role in locating FOG sources and instigating legal actions. The better the FOG management at an outlet, the less they will have to spend on keeping the sewers flowing and that should have an impact on our bills or at least on our water supply.

Today’s legislation requires that all hot food catering outlets must have an effective FOG management system in place. New builds will not be allowed to open and existing sites are potentially at risk of receiving enforcement notices, prosecution and even closure, if a well maintained and effective management system is not in place.

There are multitudes of grease management systems available on the market, all of which claim to be the answer to all our prayers, with one answer that fits all. Unfortunately the vast majority of systems sold are of little value and the concept of ‘one fits all’ is flawed.

The approach adopted by Serious Waste Management is to look at each site individually. Vast differences in grease volume occur regionally, even within the same brand. Tailoring a solution to fit the individual needs of each specific site provides the most effective means to minimise FOG problems.

For more details on how we can you help you fight the FOG, together with details of our unique services for sewage waste systems management, please contact us here

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