Survey reveals developing hygiene crisis within foodservice sector

Grease Capture in kitchen low res crop
ACO's survey suggests that foodservice sites are not disposing of FOG properly.

Research carried out by ACO Building Drainage has revealed a developing hygiene crisis in the hospitality sector, with more than half of respondents having experienced a build-up of grease in their kitchens.

The results from a survey of 500 foodservice managers and owners highlights the concerning number of establishments that are not disposing of fats, oils and greases (FOG) appropriately. One in five respondents, for example, admitted to simply relying on biological dosing or pouring it down the sink. Industry best practice would advise against this as it can lead to blockages both within the kitchens themselves, or further down the line in the sewer network.

In fact, 56% of those surveyed admitted to having experienced a build-up of grease in their kitchens, with 25% suffering from bad odours as a result. Additionally, almost half (49%) said they had to have their drains unblocked at least once a month due to grease blockages before lockdown. Not only is this likely to impact service and ultimately a business’ bottom line, but it is also placing establishments at risk of failing hygiene surveys.

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One in eight have faced closures as a direct result of fatbergs, which are themselves caused by poor FOG management. It is an issue that is prevalent across the UK, with a number of high-profile fatbergs being seen in major cities in recent months, including Belfast, Liverpool, and Birmingham.

Erik Mul, technical product manager at ACO Building Drainage commented: “The results of this survey are worrying, because they show the extent of misunderstanding surrounding FOG management. While 90% understood that they were responsible for grease disposal, the number who are taking appropriate action is far less.

“Even amongst those who have installed grease separation systems into their kitchen, there remains confusion over how regularly they need to be maintained. This presents an issue in itself, because a poorly maintained system can lead to problems such as bad odours and blockages.”

The survey also showed that 39% of those who use a grease management system are not servicing it at least once a month, drastically reducing efficiency and risking failure. This is a situation that has worsened during the pandemic, as just one in six have carried out maintenance over lockdown. It leaves the hospitality sector at jeopardy of further FOG closures – at a time when businesses are looking to recover from a difficult 18 months.

Tags : acoFOGgrease managementgrease management systemhygienereportresearch
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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