The "Cease the Grease" program was created to educate homeowners of the damage to personal and public property resulting from grease-related sewage overflows and basement backups, and show how ease of use can help to avoid these health hazards.
About Fats, Oils and Grease
Fats, oils and greases (FOG) are byproducts of cooking. Oil is the liquid form left over from frying, which does not solidify. Grease is the white solid residue left in the pan after frying items, such as bacon.
The 10 most common types that are poured down kitchen drains include:
- Baking goods
- Butter and lard
- Cooking oil
- Dairy products
- Fat trimmings
- Food scraps
Garbage disposals, detergents, additives, enzymes or hot water will not prevent FOG buildup.
FOG can accumulate and cause blockages in sewers. A blockage starts when these types of FOGs collect on the top and sides of the pipe interiora and continue to build up. Eventually, excessive accumulation will restrict the flow of wastewater and can result in a sewage overflows or basement backups. Not only do these overflows and backups expose the public to disease-causing organisms in their homes, yards, parks and streets, they are also expensive to clean up. Basement backups must often be paid for by the homeowner, and overflows increase operation and maintenance costs, which results in higher sewer bills for all Baltimore County customers.
How to Avoid FOG Damage
The County needs the help of its residents to avoid FOG-related issues:
- Never pour FOG into your sink or toilet. Rather, dispose of FOG into a small can, storing it in the freezer until it is full. Then, throw it into the trash.
- When there is FOG residue in a pan or on a dish, wipe it with a paper towel before washing and throw the towel in the trash.
- Place a strainer in the kitchen sink drain to catch food scraps and other solids. Then empty the strainer into the trash.
All restaurants and other food service establishments receive regular inspections of their sewer system for FOG accumulation to verify that the establishment is using adequately-sized FOG abatement devices, and that they are properly cleaned and maintained. If no such device is present, the owner may be required to install one. For disposal, contact a commercial hauler or recycler to set up a schedule for FOG pickup. Restaurants and other food service establishments can be held financially responsible for damages resulting from FOG blockages and can even be shut down.
Requirements for Establishments
Any restaurant, food-service establishment, institutional or commercial kitchen that is connected to the sewer system, is required to:
- Participate in the FOG program—This includes ice cream parlors, sandwich shops, and coffee and smoothie shops, because of the use of oils and dairy products.
- Have a properly functioning grease trap—You are responsible for timely cleaning and maintenance of the grease trap.
- Follow Best Management Practices (BMP)—These are the requirements used to minimize the grease and solids buildup in your grease trap. Following BMP will reduce the plumbing expenses and disposal costs associated with the materials removed from the grease traps.
- Maintain records—The Department of Health's Environmental Health Food Program can provide details for required records.