We speak to anyone with a FOG (fats, oils and grease) inquiry and often end up pointing them in a totally different direction than they originally were headed. It’s a pattern in these conversations. Occasionally, this involves a caller with an MGD mindset. Here is an example of how one of these calls typically proceeds.
Since the pandemic began, Four Saints Brewing Company has been one of the most visible small businesses in our home base of Asheboro, NC. It has hosted virtual concerts, partnered with a food truck, and stepped up its social media presence to soften the blows it’s taken from state-mandated restrictions and shutdowns.
Along the way, owner and CEO Joel McClosky has discovered his taproom’s unofficial status as the town’s “third place” has been both a blessing and a curse in the COVID era.
Did you know the North American and European testing standards for certifying grease separators have nothing in common literally?
One is predominately a performance standard, a batch flow test simulating kitchen sink discharge. The other is mostly a design standard, a continuous flow test simulating floor drains receiving oily water flows.
Both tests become more difficult to pass with higher flow rates. As a manufacturer, we respect the local codes and standards. It is why we test our products to all applicable standards.
Hospitals and other health care facilities often operate extensive commercial kitchens. But unlike restaurants, hotels and other foodservice establishments, hospitals face additional cost-control, sanitation and operational challenges.
They have one or more commercial kitchens that may feed effluent into plumbing systems that run for hundreds or thousands of feet before exiting the building.
Hospitals also operate on a 24/7 basis, requiring them to keep downtime to a minimum. They don’t close for holidays, and their kitchens must keep operating matter what.
These factors mean that hospitals face unique pretreatment challenges. Facility managers and engineers must carefully consider their pretreatment technology, or risk high-cost repairs and even breakdowns that could threaten the health of patients and workers.
I’m not fond of unsolved mysteries. When a service contractor stumped us with a problem in the late 1990s, the issue nagged at me.
The contractor told us about gelatinous masses building up in a handful of grease separators. The masses smelled terrible, he said, and the separators had surprisingly low water input flows.
We tried figuring out what the gel was. We ran tests in our lab. We looked online. We consulted wastewater treatment professionals and scientists. We couldn’t come up with anything.
Whenever I thought about the gel, I kept picturing the monster from the 1958 cinematic classic, The Blob.
Each state has its own unique environmental challenges and aims. You learn a lot by attending state conferences.
I recall a trip to the Florida Department of Health Conference in 1986 or 1987 when the buzz was about a growing set of research on extending lifespans of septic fields for rural food service establishments (restaurants, schools, other premises with commercial kitchens). This work remains vital to rural communities to this day.
Damann L. Anderson and his team at the University of Wisconsin in Madison were leaders in this area. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, they focused on the nutrient loading effect on septic field lifespans. Septic field failure occurs when a septic field no longer properly absorbs effluent. Instead, the water ponds at the surface, a public health hazard.
In September, health officials in a Canadian town just outside Vancouver scrambled to explain a rare cluster of Legionnaires' disease cases in its business district. The problem wasn’t as much a case of why it happened as much as where.
They knew why.
Like most cities and towns around the world, New Westminster shut down in the wake of the pandemic. When businesses resumed, water systems that laid dormant for months suddenly had water flowing through them. That was a problem. Stagnant water in the pipes bred Legionnaires’ disease-causing bacteria, which was suddenly spreading everywhere. But which building – or buildings – was it? Inspectors zeroed in on those with cooling towers, air conditioning units, and decorative water features.
As if running a business isn’t challenging enough in the current economic climate, an invisible fallout from the pandemic may be lurking in the pipes beneath hotels and restaurants. And it really stinks.
That offensive rotten-egg smell signals the presence of hydrogen sulfide creeping up from the grease interceptor into your business. During the pandemic, we’ve had calls from clients asking about the smell, and their stories offer a helpful heads-up for all of us.
What is your plan when a city official, contractor, or engineer says a 1,000-gallon grease interceptor must be installed in your drive-through, parking lot, or another area where vehicles will be driving over it every day?
Trying to comply with local codes and regulations shouldn’t be difficult. You shouldn’t have to use all your resources to engineer, install, and maintain a grease trap. It should be easier and more affordable.
Rotisserie chicken ovens have been steadily gaining popularity in commercial kitchens since 1985, when Boston Market first introduced them to the restaurant industry. Today, more than 750 million rotisserie chickens are sold every year in grocery stores, club stores and food-service outlets.
While the slow-cooked birds are a smart choice for retailers, the grease they generate can present a challenge for commercial kitchen owners and for municipal water treatment systems.
What options do kitchen operators have to ensure they still comply with municipal pretreatment and plumbing codes?