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A primer on commercial kitchen FOG waste

Frying eggs and baconIt’s not very often that wastewater system workers are hailed as heroes in the headlines around the world. But in August 2013, that’s what happened.

News media around the world picked up the story of London’s ‘fatberg,’ a bus-sized, 33,000-pound mass of fats, oils and grease that had clogged an 8-foot diameter sewer line.

The English newspaper The Guardian reported:

A sewage worker has become an unlikely hero after taking three weeks to defeat a toxic 15-tonne ball of congealed fat the size of a bus that came close to turning parts of the London borough of Kingston upon Thames into a cesspit.”

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Why point-source grease interceptors may be the ideal choice


W-250-IS Model 40kIf you own a restaurant or other business within the foodservice industry, chances are good you’re already using some sort of grease interceptor. If not, sooner or later you’ll likely face clogged pipes, back-ups into your kitchen and costly fines.

In the United States, there are three types of grease interceptors generally found within the foodservice industry: small passive hydromechanical grease interceptors (sometimes referred to as grease traps), larger grease interceptors made out of plastic, fiberglass, steel or concrete, and automatic grease removal devices. Though using any of these options is better than nothing, all grease traps are not created equally and, as technology improves, so do grease interceptors.

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Five ways to make your commercial kitchen safer

Chefs in motionPicture a commercial kitchen during peak rush -- the staff hurriedly prepares food while wait staff bustles in to retrieve orders and bring in stacks of dirty dishes, all in the presence of hot ovens, slippery floors and boiling pots. 

So, what can you do to make sure your kitchen is as safe as possible? Check out the tips below. Read on to learn some basic safety principles and tips that can help reduce the risk of injury, decrease insurance costs and keep your commercial kitchen running smoothly. 

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Replacing a grease trap? Here's a few factors to consider

Big Dipper grease interceptor

Replacing a hydromechanical grease interceptor, also referred to as a grease trap, can be smelly, expensive and unpleasant. But if you operate a food service establishment and need a new one, you don’t have much choice.

In nearly all jurisdictions, commercial kitchens are required to have a grease interceptor to keep fats, oil and grease out of the sewer system. Coagulated grease is responsible for thousands — perhaps millions — of sewer blockages around the world, are expensive to clear and make sewer systems more costly to operate.

Your existing grease trap may have corroded or degraded so much that it no longer works.

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Understanding your plumbing inspector's view

Beakers of clean and dirty waterDon’t accuse a plumbing inspector (PI) of blindly following a bloated set of bureaucratic rules for no good reason. Yes, a plumbing inspector’s job is to enforce the plumbing code. Yes, a plumbing inspector will likely be suspicious of anything that deviates from that code.

But plumbing inspectors have good reasons for following the plumbing code (and so do you). In fact, good plumbing inspectors can help you, your business and your community by preventing long-term problems. Here's how they approach the job.

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Big Dipper digital control optimized for rotisserie ovens

Rotisserie chickenCommercial rotisserie ovens, which are popping up in more grocery stores as well as some restaurants and institutional settings, bring with them some unusual challenges when it comes to managing grease. Seasonal fluctuations in demand for rotisserie-cooked poultry pose some unusual challenges for grease removal, which a new Big Dipper feature resolves. 

(Photo courtesy of Steve Parker / Creative Commons on Flickr)

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Expert viewpoint: From treating waste to harnessing resources

Bob Rubin - wastewater treatment expertDr. A. Robert “Bob" Rubin is an emeritus professor and former extension specialist in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at North Carolina State University. He spent more than a quarter century there doing research, teaching and public service. He’s testified before Congress, spoken to international meetings of researchers and policy experts and been honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for his service. He was kind enough to talk to us about the changes he’s seen in the last 30-plus years in wastewater treatment and what he expects in the coming years.

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New Big Dipper Digital Control Increases Life, Improves User Experience

Big Dipper Push Button InterfaceIn the three decades since Thermaco developed the innovative Big Dipper grease interceptor, more than 33,000 units have been installed in commercial kitchens around the world. 

Thermaco is also focused on continuing to innovate, and we’re proud to announce the new and improved 40000 Series Big Dipper with digital control. We know a food service establisment's priorities for a grease interceptor are simple: efficient operation, minimal maintenance, and compliance.

The 40000 Series Big Dipper with a new digital control unit is designed to help accomplish all those goals.

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Six ways your commercial kitchen might be out of compliance

Chef and Waiter discussing menu

You always score a solid "A" during health department inspections.

You make sure your fire extinguishers and other safety gear is regularly inspected.

And if something goes wrong with a piece of equipment, you immediately call a service technician and get it fixed.

While you may think you’re doing everything you could, and everything you should, to keep your commercial kitchen in compliance with government regulations, there are still a few surprises that could trip you up.

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How to size a grease trap for a commercial kitchen

Kitchen Drain CloseupWhether it’s a small, neighborhood pizza place or a large, institutional cafeteria that runs 24/7, installing the correctly sized grease trap is critical.

Install a unit that’s too small, and you risk overflows and messy back-ups in the kitchen. Install a unit (or units) that are too large, though, and you’ll end up with a different kind of waste – money flushed down the drain.

However, the methods used in many plumbing codes to estimate grease trap size requirements tend to overestimate peak flow, and therefore can overestimate the unit capacity needed. 

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