Fats, oil and grease (FOG) are common waste products for most cafés and restaurants. Some of your customers' favorite dishes probably include fatty, greasy food, but the waste material from these dishes can cause problems in the sewers that serve your premises. If you're keen to cut down on the amount of waste FOG you create, consider the five following fat-beating strategies.
Ditch the deep fat fryer
Deep fat fryers can help you quickly cook a variety of dishes, but these common appliances are one of the worst devices you can use if you're looking to cut the amount of waste you create. Deep fat fryers waste a lot of energy during cooking (up to 65 per cent on some models), and this type of cooking also has a harmful effect on food. Studies show that deep fat frying degrades the vital amino acids and fatty acids in the ingredients you use.
Customers are increasingly looking for healthier food alternatives. Ditch the deep fat fryer, and find healthier ways to prepare certain foods. For example, you can grill or steam chicken breasts as an alternative to deep fat frying, and you can still serve up menu favorites like a BLT sandwich.
Regularly clean your grease trap
In most American states, café or restaurant owners must install grease traps before they can sell food. As their name suggests, these devices intercept fats, oil and grease in wastewater and prevent FOG building up in the sewer systems. Most states have strict laws governing the installation, maintenance and care of grease traps. If you haven't had a grease trap inspection for a while, book an engineer's appointment.
An engineer can clean the system out for you. In many places, café and restaurant owners must arrange for grease trap cleaning and maintenance monthly, but, if you're running a very busy eatery, you may need more frequent visits. Don't scrimp on restaurant grease trap cleaning costs. These devices stop FOG blocking the sewers. If that problem occurs, you could face much more expensive repair bills.
Install a powerful exhaust hood
Many café owners underestimate the amount of fat and grease that exhaust hoods extract from the air. A powerful and efficient exhaust hood system can help you cut the amount of fatty waste that ends up in the sink, but you need to make sure you have the right system.
A Type I hood collects and removes grease and smoke, but a Type 2 hood will normally only deal with smells, steam and vapor. There are also guidelines to regulate hood installation. For example, you should install a canopy-type hood no more than seven feet above the cooking surface.
If you're unsure if your hood is effective, contact an engineer or a local supplier for more advice.
Recycle used cooking oil
In most towns and cities, café owners can now arrange for a company to collect and recycle used cooking oil. These companies purify the oil and use the by-products for animal feed and/or biodiesel.
Recycling companies can handle different types of used oil. They can use the yellow grease that comes from fryers and cooking equipment, but they can also use the brown grease that collects in your grease trap. Set up designated buckets for each type of grease, and train your staff members to put the right type of waste in each receptacle.
Use a composting system
A garbage disposal unit is a quick, convenient way to dispose of food waste, but these machines can increase the amount of FOG you send to the sewers. Garbage disposal units use a lot of water, and fatty waste quickly ends up in the sewer system.
For a more biodegradable option, organic compost units can help you get rid of food waste. These units don't take up much space, and, after a short period, you can turn food waste (including FOG) into garden fertilizer. With a composting unit, you can save water and energy by turning off your garbage disposal unit, too.
Café owners often produce a lot of fats, oil and grease, but it's important to find ways to stop these materials getting into the sewer system. With some simple changes, you can drastically cut your waste footprint and save some money. What more could you ask for?