FOG: more questions than answers?

If FOG is not treated it can build up.If FOG is not treated it can build up.

William Clark, director at the Aluline Group, argues that the current sizing standards for grease management systems need clarifying:

With today’s regulations and enforcement challenges facing an owner, getting the correct information with regard to the design of a commercial kitchen is a challenge. Good business practice would be to contract a professional consultant to ensure that the current legislation on all aspects of design and operation are taken into account, including hygiene practices, HACCP, and oil and grease compliance. As all consultants have indemnity insurance, and many years of experience, it is money well spent.

Consultants take a grease management system (GMS) into account in the initial design and allow enough space to accommodate it. The advantage to the client is that the most efficient GMS is usually specified, as the positioning of FOG-producing equipment, for example combi ovens and sinks, is optimal to ensure the plumbing and pipework systems perform well, and that ongoing costs are minimised.

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However, the adopted EN-1825 grease separators sizing standards are ambiguous and there are a number of different systems in the marketplace. There have been no units tested; the supplier has just asked for the certification to be issued by the relevant governing body.

This raises the question as to how the GMS can be based on nominal sizing, if it hasn’t been tested and approved, or been passed by the compliance team before installation? Only when it is installed and the kitchen is functioning and tested will the client know if they have chosen wisely. If the trap doesn’t do what it should and has been passed by the FOG team, who carries the can?

Why are operators not raising these issues with their local elected councils or government? Meanwhile their hard earned money is just literally going down the drain.

Compliance teams will now be checking operators’ units. The positioning of wash hand basins sinks, gullies, waste bins etc, will feature in design criteria, and an emphasis on the prevention of cross contamination will become even more important in the future. GMS installations can be more expensive if the initial design ignores this requirement. Space is always at a premium, and sizing and space for retrofits is a major consideration.

Aluline has firsthand experience of the cost of retrofitting in establishments where a design specialist was not consulted.

The added expense of trapping sinks /FOG-producing equipment in areas where equipment/ walls/door openings and bar pipework are is costly and usually requires bespoke traps due to space availability.

A proper layout will take into account the GMS and organise the most efficient drainage to reduce the number of traps. This can be as simple as having more than one sink tied into the GMS. The cleaning /maintenance cost is reduced by use of fewer traps.

If an incident occurs and correct equipment is not installed or maintenance has not been carried out regularly, a water company can instigate prosecution. The operator is ultimately in law responsible for performance of their food producing unit/kitchen.

The experts and those concerned about FOG entering the sewage pipe network have prepared many papers on the subject but have failed to produce a definitive document or method for reducing FOG. The use of certificates from bodies that are not accountable and use test methods not in line with requirements of health and safety or current building regulations should be questioned.

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