Love them or hate them, they are a necessary evil in today’s hospitality and food industry – yet there is confusion. Even within the regulatory bodies themselves. The more information you seek, the more confusing it can be. In this feature we will try and help owners and staff working in commercial kitchens gain a basic understanding of Grease Management Systems (GMS).
What is the aim of a GMS?
The purpose of a GMS in basic terms is to prevent the drainage or sewage system blocking with Food, Oil and Grease (FOG). Why should you care? Fatbergs found in drain systems can end up costing water companies millions of euro to address. These costs are passed on to their customers. Furthermore, if your business is found to be allowing FOG to enter the drainage system you could be looking at a court appearance.
What is a GMS?
A GMS is fixed between the kitchen and the sewer to collect the FOG you produce from your kitchen. If Best Kitchen Practice (BKP) is followed properly, little FOG would enter the drainage system and the necessity of a GMS would be reduced. However in the real world, whether by accident or by design, some FOG does end up going down the sink.
Talking with kitchen managers, the BKP recommendation of Scraping and Wiping is simply not feasible during busy times. It could be argued therefore that the food industry has created the need for GMS solutions.
There are a number of different types of GMS on the market, with the main piece of equipment commonly being referred to as grease trap. Of course all manufacturers claim that their solution is the best, the most efficient and that it meets with all industry required standards. It is up to each owner to ensure that a correct system is installed and maintained. The relevant regulation observed, HACCP regulations and all food hygiene rules adhered to.
However, in towns and cities across Ireland you will find many systems that do not meet all the relevant regulations. A tendency to pick and choose which regulations to adhere to has lead to the units of many manufacturers being “unfit for purpose”.
Regulation En 12056-1:2000 states:
drainage systems shall be designed and installed so that Health and Safety of the users and occupiers of the building are not affected by, amongst other things, the penetration of toxic or noxious odours into the building. Drainage pipe work systems installed inside buildings shall not release vapours and foul air into the building.
Quotation taken from British Water FOG document, page 24 paragraph 3.
Going on the above EN Regulations it seems essential that your grease trap must be sealed so as to prevent the emission of odours, or even worse, odourless & possibly dangerous airborne toxins.
Have you got one?
If you can smell your drains, then the answer is probably ‘yes’. This could likely cause a problem and raise serious health and hygiene issues. If a member of staff claimed that the smell caused them to be unwell you could be looking at very serious litigation problems. Ignorance is obviously not a valid excuse. As an employer you have a ‘Duty of Care’.
Does dosing alone work?
Some advocate dosing, or the gradual administering of aerobic bacteria. However, in a kitchen environment, this provides no protection to the pipe system and it really does have a problem with oil. Oil creates a micro film on the surface of water and anything it touches, pipework especially. Since it’s on the surface of pipes that bacteria must act this presents a very real problem – aerobic bacteria need air to survive. The oil film basically smothers the bacteria, this reduces the ability of the bacteria to act and to survive.
What is a Passive Trap?
Some commercial kitchen installers suggest a passive trap and the bacteria dosing to take place at the furthest point away from the trap, e.g. the sink itself. This can help keep the drainage free-flowing, but there are advantages and disadvantages to passive systems. They are normally found outside the building due to their large size (often over one thousand litres) and they are not usually air tight. One main disadvantage to this is that there can be quite a distance from the source of FOG. Due to the nature of FOG it changes its form from liquid to semi solid as it cools, which can create blockages within the building. Every right angle bend can cause a slowing by thirty percent, this can cause major problems for the operator, blockages under the floor etc.
Another problem they pose is that your GMS should never have a dishwasher going through them. If your passive system is outside it is likely the last point before the sewer and taking in all the waste from the kitchen. The detergent will inhibit the active bacteria within the system. This is because when a dishwasher flushes, it deposits a large quantity of hot water and chemicals that will compromise or destroy the aerobic bacteria that need to be active there.
So What is the Solution?
The ideal solution therefore seems to be a combination of a sealed, air tight grease trap in the kitchen and a dosing system. That sounds complicated but really it isn’t. A stainless steel and air tight unit with baffles that create a settlement tank, can catch the oil and the solids at the base. The Bio Hydro Mechanical System also incorporates the introduction of bacteria. It is introduced as close to the source of FOG before the trap and is on a timer, set to dose the bacteria into the drainage when the kitchen is closed. This allows the bacteria the longest time to do its work. These systems would seem to tick all the boxes.
The Bio Hydro Mechanical System can be positioned inside the kitchen due to the bacteria and design reducing the physical size. It can also go as close to any FOG source as possible. This could be expensive if there is a large number of FOG producing items. However in new builds, if the architects or designers are well informed they will design the drainage system to have the majority of sinks on the one run. This lowers the number of traps required, reducing the cost of the GMS.
Over the next few months, we will be looking at a number of different GMS solutions & issues. As we do so, we would appreciate any questions, comments or feedback from our readers. We’ll endeavour to reply to all communications and perhaps publish the most interesting.
Some further questions:
- Why do I need grease traps?
- Do I need to maintain grease traps?
- What are Bio Aerosols?
- Who is the regulator for the equipment I must use?
- Are there existing regulations in force?
- Why should I refrain from pouring sanitiser into drains?
- How should I use sanitisers in a commercial kitchen?
- Why Is the use of waste disposal units not a good idea?
Any reader able to answer all the above questions is in line for a cash prize. By the end of this series of pieces on GMS you should be up to speed!
The information and views set out in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of FFT.ie. Neither FFT.ie or any person acting on its behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.
To discuss further with Aluline, please contact direct on 0872784929