Grill manufacturer engages water authority over fatbergs

A British cooking equipment manufacturer has attracted the attention of a water authority desperate to get a handle on the increasingly problematic issue of ‘fatbergs’.

Active Food Systems, which produces the Synergy Grill, has had discussions with Thames Water over the ‘fat atomisation’ qualities of its flagship appliance.

The grill’s gas burner system allows the flame to burn so hot that it atomises fat from food and eliminates the need for a fat tray. With the restaurant sector labelled as one of the chief contributors to fats and oils entering the sewer system, Synergy sees its equipment as a way for operators not to have to worry about FOG management.

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The company’s chairman, Justin Cadbury, was recently interviewed by BBC TV on the subject and while the nature of its dialogue with Thames Water remains confidential, he told Catering Insight the organisation regards the growing menace of fatbergs as a “major problem”.

He said: “The fact that Synergy is a technology that does not produce a grease by-product that effectively escalates their need to deal with this problem is seen as significant step forward in responsible restaurant operation and ownership.”

Thames Water has even sent a small team, including its top scientific adviser, to test Synergy’s claims that it can offer a no-fat solution. It spends around £12m each year clearing blockages from sewers.

While it is not believed that any formal commercial agreement between the two parties has been struck, Cadbury suggested it was useful for Thames Water to know about solutions such as the Synergy Grill given that it wants customers in the hospitality sector to understand their responsibilities for ensuring drains do not get blocked up.

“They bring greater exposure for the Synergy grill,” he said. “This product has never needed a ‘hard sell’, but it does require a bit of technical explanation so the customer can understand the benefits. Thames Water deals with the serious players who have financial awareness for long-lasting solutions.”

Thames Water recently uncovered a fatberg the length of a Boeing 747 below Shepherd’s Bush Road in West London. High-powered water jets had to be used to break up the 80-metre stretch of congealed food fat, wet wipes and other debris.

The latest find still has a long way to go to beat the fatberg uncovered in Kingston, Surrey last year, however. It weighed in at a colossal 15 tonnes and took weeks to remove.

Read the full interview with Justin Cadbury in the current issue of Catering Insight.

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