Food For Thought Newsletter


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What Is FOG?

Fats, Oil and Grease! FOG comes from foods such as cooking oil, lard, shortening, meat fats, sauces, gravy, mayonnaise, butter, ice cream and soups. Wastewaters from sinks, dishwashers, hoods and floors and food scraps are also sources of FOG. Grease discharges are predominantly from washing and cleaning operations (washing the grease down the drain), not from deep frying, as many people think.

Why is FOG a problem?

Grease causes the formation of solid deposits along the walls of the sewers, which reduces sewer capacity. These deposits can lead to the breakaway of accumulated FOG and clog sewer lines, causing sewer backups inside a restaurant or backups through sewer manholes onto private property and the streets. Food service establishments that are found responsible for improper FOG disposal may be held liable for cleanup and repair costs related to sanitary sewer damage, backups and overflows.

How to Properly Dispose of Fats, Oils and Grease

The most effective way to solve the FOG problem is to keep this material out of the sewer system.

  • Wipe off dishes, pots, pans and cooking utensils before washing instead of rinsing down the drain.
  • Collect waste cooking oils in grease barrels and schedule the pickup of the barrels before they are full. Store grease barrels away from storm sewers.
  • Install a grease trap (typically inside) or grease interceptor (typically outside) to trap the FOG before it enters the county sewer lines. Check the depth of grease and food solids in the trap/interceptor regularly.
  • Grease traps may be cleaned by restaurant staff or a licensed sewage handler. Schedule regular cleaning before the combined grease and solids layers total more than 25% of total capacity. The total capacity is the depth from the bottom of the outlet pipe to the bottom of the tank.

Keep a record of the cleanout dates. Post the maintenance log near the three compartment sink or maintain in a file. Fairfax County Public Works inspectors may request this record during periodic inspections.

A brochure with more information regarding grease traps and proper maintenance is included with your 2014 Permit to Operate a Food Service Establishment. More information will also be available on the Health Department website.

This information was provided by the Fairfax County Health Department in partnership with the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services (DPWES). If you have any questions, please call the DPWES, Industrial Waste Section at 703-550-9740, extension 252, TTY 711.

Read more from the January 2013 newsletter. Download now. (Spanish) PDF icon







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