FOG Management Program

Good FOG management practices include reducing spills and clogs by eliminating grease at the source. This protects the wastewater system and reduces system operation and maintenance costs. It protects public health. Smart restaurant practices also support and achieve regulatory compliance. Also, it reduces property and environmental damage as well as clean up costs.

The value of a monitoring program includes the ability to guarantee a system to provide a line of communication between the monitoring entity, the owner, and the regulator. A program as this would support a longer life of the treatment system and save the owner the expense of replacement. Devices used to trap such material include grease interceptors or traps, under sink traps, oil and water separators, used oil containers (for petroleum based oils), and grease recycle containers (bins).

High strength wastewater is caused by several items including reduced dilution (no showers or laundry), soaps and detergents, soluble grease and fat, garbage disposal waste, food waste from restaurants (i.e. scraps), and spillage from dairy and beverage dispensers. Fats, oils, and grease originate from many processes that are performed in industry and food processing. Animal fats, vegetable oils, and petroleum are included in FOG. Saturated fatty acids are generally found in high concentrations in solid fats (butter, lard, beef tallow). Unsaturated fatty acids have lower boiling points and are generally found in higher concentrations in oils (olive, corn, peanut).

Facilities that generate FOG include restaurants, malls, hotels, strip centers, car washes, and mechanic shops. Oil and grease rendering services collect the material from the grease trap and divert it to useful purposes like poultry, pork, cattle, cat, and dog food, make-up, candles, and food grade lubricants.

When using a food establishment questionnaire, these items offer critical information to your maintenance program:

• Determine if the establishment is Fast Food or Full Service
• Note the building square footage
• Is there a cocktail lounge (yes/no)
• Indicate the number of days the establishment is open per week, plus the hours of operation
• Indicate the number of meals served for: slow days and peak days
• Is a garbage grinder used?
• Is the tableware disposable or washable?
• Does the dishwasher function with hot water or a chemical sanitizer?
• Is there a salad bar? If so, is it the plug-in refrigerator regulated type or is ice added to the bar to keep the items cool?
• Is a deep fat fryer used?
• Is the hood system regularly cleaned? How?
• Is there an ice cream/yogurt machine? (yes/no)
• Ice machine? (yes/no)
• Are low flow fixtures in use to reduce water usage?
• Are public restrooms onsite?
• If so, how many sinks, urinals, and toilets are in each restroom?

Obtain a menu to know what items are prepared in the establishment. Ask about flows for average, peak, and special occasions. If available, gather the organic loading data: BODS, TSS, and FOG if there is a pre-treatment program mandated by the utility. If possible, note waste characteristics as wastewater temperature, dissolved oxygen level, and pH. Note the disinfection methods practiced and the chemicals that are used.

Story by Albert Royster

Albert Royster is an Environmental Specialist for Volusia County Health Department in Deland, Florida. He is a state licensed drinking water and wastewater treatment plant operator.

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