Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG)
Fats, oils, and grease in wastewater can clog pipes and cause unsanitary spills or overflows to occur in food preparation areas, around a food preparation or automotive facility, or out on the street near a manhole or sewer access point. Spills and overflows are costly to clean up for BOTH business and the City, which results in less profit to business establishment and possible fines and other penalties from the City.
The City implemented a FOG Control Program to ensure that food service establishments that generate FOG implement Good Cleaning Practices to mitigate the amount of FOG entering the sanitary sewer system. As part of the FOG Control Program an inspection will be conducted at businesses to verify grease traps/interceptors are being maintained, proper disposal of used cooking oil, and proper kitchen practices are implemented. Businesses are encouraged to share this information with management personnel and staff.
Posters detailing best management practices for the proper disposal of grease are available in (English)(Spanish)(Chinese). Please display these posters in kitchen areas where easily viewable by your employees – preferably above sinks or drains.
If you have any questions regarding the City's FOG Program, please contact montereypark.npdes@JLHA.net or (562) 645-3114.
What can be done to prevent and control FOG?
Control FOG at the source helps to prevent it from entering the sewer system.
- Best management practices (BMPs) can go a long way toward reducing FOG in the sanitary sewer system. Please see FOG BMP flyers for further information. (English)(Spanish)(Chinese)
- Use pretreatment like grease traps or interceptors, skimmers, separators, and process flow treatment systems, such as carbon filtration or coagulation units.
- Train kitchen staff and other employees about how they can help ensure BMPs are implemented. People are more willing to support an effort if they understand the basis for it.
- Dry Clean-Up is the best clean-up when dealing with FOG. “Wet” clean-up results in waste materials clinging to the walls of drains and forming clogs. “Dry” methods would reduce, if not eliminate this problem. The use of rubber scrapers to remove FOG from cookware, utensils, chafing dishes and serving ware is one alternative method. Using towels runs the risk of grease accumulation which eventually gets washed away in laundry machine drains. Instead, using paper towels to clean work areas is a simple solution for “dry” clean-up
- Signs such as “No Grease” constantly remind employees to help minimize the amount of material going down the drain and will reduce the cost of cleaning and disposal.
- Water Temperature kept less than 140°F in all sinks not only reduces the risk of clogging up your sewer lateral but also reduces the costs of heating the water, and the potential cost of hiring someone to clean out your pipes as well as being fined or penalized by the City.
What are grease traps and interceptors?
A grease trap is designed to prevent grease, oil, solids, and other debris from entering the water stream, where it becomes an issue by clogging sewers and disrupting the water flow in the system.
A grease trap should be checked and frequently maintained to ensure it is working properly. Backups, odors, and drainage problems are signs that the grease trap is not functioning as it should.
Grease interceptors are larger than grease traps and are generally below-ground units located immediately outside of food preparation areas. These require less maintenance and are normally the preferred grease removal device.
Penalties may be incurred when overflows or other problems occur. The charge for pumping out a grease trap or interceptor is considerably more than the service fee charged by a renderer of segregated material. Furthermore, with dry cleanup and other source reduction techniques, many restaurants can reduce their water consumption and grease-related plumbing problems. In addition, rendering also helps restaurants avoid discharge penalty charges.
Q: What is an FSE?
A: An FSE or "Food Service Establishment" is any facility engaged in preparing food for consumption by the public such as, but not limited to, restaurants, commercial kitchens, caterers, hotels, bakeries, donut shops, public and private schools, hospitals, prisons, correctional facilities, and care institutions.
Q: What is FOG?
A: FOG is a combination of fats, oils, and grease used in food processing and the preparation of meals. FOG bearing materials include:
- Cooking oil
- Cookies and pastries
Q: Why is FOG a problem?
A: Waste FOG accumulates in the sewer system causing obstruction or blockage of the sewer pipe, ultimately resulting in a sewer overflow. FOG also accumulates in pump station wet wells and primary settling tanks causing a decrease in capacities and an increase maintenance requirements.
Q: What is being done to address the FOG problem?
A: The City has implemented a three-prong approach to address FOG accumulation.
Prong 1 - Regulation of Food Service Establishments (FSEs)
Prong 2 - Residential outreach
Prong 3 - An aggressive sewer-cleaning program
Q: When is waste FOG generated?
A: Waste FOG is generated when the FSE engages in one or more of the following or similar food preparation practices:
Using equipment such as a deep fryer, grill, stir-fryer (wok), ovens/stoves/ranges, barbecue, rotisserie, or other similar cooking devices
Using cooking materials such as oil, fats, lard, grease, butter, tallow, shortening, or margarine, or food sources such as beef, poultry, pork, seafood, or other similar products.
Q: What is a grease interceptor?
A: A Grease interceptor (GI) is a plumbing device with a minimum size of 750 gallons that is installed in a wastewater drainage system to intercept and prevent FOG from entering the sanitary sewer system.
Q: How much does GI installation cost?
A: For the minimum 750-gallon unit, the GI installation cost is approximately $20,000.
Q: What is a newly constructed FSE?
A: A newly constructed FSE is an FSE that was constructed after August 5, 2001. Any existing non-FSE facility that is converted to an FSE (change-of-use) is also considered a newly constructed FSE.
Q: What are Best Management Practices (BMP)?
A: Best Management Practices are activities performed by the FSE that prevent the discharge of waste FOG to the sewer system. All FSEs are subject to the BMPs specified in the Board of Public Works' Rules and Regulations. For more information regarding BMP requirements, contact montereypark.npdes@JLHA.net or (562) 645-3114.
Important Links and Flyers
City of Los Angeles municipal code
Food service establishment regulations
Los Angeles County Public Works pretreatment guidelines for restaurants