Preventing FOG in restaurants

Grease traps are necessary for any commercial kitchen. Commercial kitchens can be found in restaurants, hospitals, churches, hotels, nursing homes, and so on.

Also known as grease interceptors, grease traps are engineered to stop fats, oils or grease (FOG) from entering the sewer lines. If left unchecked, FOG deposits can lead to clogging and fouling of downstream sewers and wastewater management equipment.

By controlling FOG in your North Carolina restaurant, you may help lessen the likelihood of:

  • Losing revenue to emergency shutdowns caused by sewage backups and costly bills for plumbing and property repairs.
  • Lawsuits from nearby businesses over sewer problems caused by your negligence.
  • Lawsuits from the public or workers exposed to raw sewage during backup.
  • Chargebacks for repairs to sewer pipes attributed to your FOG, or surcharges from your local sewer authority.
  • Getting several testing requirements imposed due to a history of violations.
  • Enforcement action by local authorities due to violation ordinances.

Fats, oils and grease prevention is a necessary process in a prosperous and socially responsible restaurant operation. That’s why in this article, we share the best kitchen practices to prevent FOG for your North Carolina restaurant.

Grease Hoods & Filters

Oils from cooking

Did you know that grease hoods are the  #1 cause of fires in restaurants? Cleaning the hoods and filters regularly is  key.

Clean the filters in a sink that is connected to the grease interceptor. Some restaurants take the grease filters to a spray car wash where the filters can be power washed. Avoid cleaning the filters outside close to a storm sewer drain.

FOG escapes via the kitchen exhaust system accumulating on the roof. Eventually, when it rains, the FOG will enter the storm sewer.

Food Solids & Liquid Food Waste

Never allow food solids and liquid food waste to enter the drain. Always do the following:

  • Only run the automatic dishwasher when completely full.
  • Pour grease from frying pans and cookie trays into a metal can, refrigerate until the grease hardens and throw it out when full.
  • Clean the floor mats in a mop sink, not outside, as the grease will enter the storm sewer.
  • Deposit waste fryer oil or cooking grease into the waste vegetable oil (WVO) bin.
  • Place liquid foods into the food recycling bin. (Sauces, gravy, batters, condiments, salad dressings, milkshakes, dairy products).
  • Scrape food from plates and utensils into the organic waste recycling bin before washing.

Food Prep Areas, Counter Tops & Mop Buckets. All liquid waste and food solid from food preparation areas and countertops must be wiped meticulously and kept in the food recycling bin.

Buckets and mops contain massive amounts of FOG and food solids. A usual cause of grease snarl-ups is discharging mop buckets into floor drains. Floor drains are seldom joined to grease interceptors.

Never pour wastewater such as mop water outside into ditches or onto the pavement. The FOG will join the storm sewer, then eventually drain to the lake.

Dish & Utensil Cleaning


An automatic dishwasher isn’t magic. You should pre-clean utensils, plates, and dishes before putting them into the dishwasher. The dishwasher will not only clean them, but it’ll also sanitize them as well.

Before you put them inside the dishwasher, remember to wipe off the utensils and dishes first.

Also, remember to check the water temperature of your automatic dishwasher. A high water temperature will increase the utility bills of your restaurant. In addition, a high temperature will also cause grease to flow through a passive grease trap before it cools and hardens.

Kitchen Floors

Your employees may be at risk of slipping if grease accumulates on your floors. Cleaning the floors daily can help you avoid potentially costly accidents. You can find various grease removing products at your local store.

Outdoor Containers

Are you storing used cooking oil outside? If so, ensure that these containers are covered. This will help prevent cooking oil from entering storm drains when it rains.

In addition, keep the grease traps or oil containers away from the wastewater system. This way, leakages, and overflows won’t be able to escape into the storm drain catch basins.

In-Sink Strainers

Sink strainers help keep foreign objects out of the drain and help catch food particles, hair and other matters that could easily go down your drain.

Sink strainers are also easy to install and empty out.

Waste Cooking Oil

Chef at work

If its gone bad, or you decide not to save your cooking oil, it’s important to dispose of it properly. You want to avoid doing the following things:

  • Pouring hot oil into the trash
  • Disposing of oil in compost bins or piles
  • Adding oil to a septic system
  • Pouring oil down the drain or in the toilet

There are many ways you can use leftover cooking oil. Such ways are:

  • Making biodiesel fuel. Biodiesel is a desirable substitute for petroleum because it supposedly emits less harmful greenhouse gases. At Grease Cycle, we recycle used cooking oil. In fact, we're willing to pay your for it!
  • Killing weeds. Just pour some in a spray bottle and spray those unruly nuisances away.
  • For lighting. Vegetable oils, such as olive oil, can help bring a warm glow to any space. Check out DIY tutorials on how to create candles from vegetable oil.
  • Making bird food and a bird feeder. Have some feathered friends? If so, stuff some solid fat into old stockings then hang them outside. The extra calories will certainly help them survive in the cold.

FOG buildup in your North Carolina restaurant can lead to major problems. It can harm your plumbing and is detrimental to the environment. Use these best kitchen practices for a FOG-free kitchen.