Today’s special: Sewage soup. Tackling sewer blockages in food serving establishments

14 October 2020


It’s Unblocktober – a month long campaign to prevent blockages in our sewers. Collette Parker from our Keep It Clear team looks at what is going on inside food serving establishments and how we can work with you to prevent serving up a sewage soup…


If you work in a food serving establishment, you’ve got a lot on your plate at the moment. So we’re here to help you avoid serving up a sewage soup. The last thing you will want right now is a blockage! For many of our technicians the ‘dish of the day’ which greets them when they get called out to a blockage is FFOG (food, fats, oils and grease) which has found its way from their kitchens into our sewer pipes. This tends to happen when there is no targeted kitchen management in place or staff training. Although we need to play our part at home too blockage issues do arise in food serving clusters.


For starters - why should you care? Well, a significant proportion of blockages can lead to pollution which can harm our environment, and 80 per cent of blockages are avoidable. 


Main menu - can you afford it? The management and training is not expensive or time consuming but needs to be routinely applied to become part of the everyday practice of food preparation, cooking, serving and cleaning. You could also face hefty clean up bills as a result of a spill, not to mention, putting your customers off their food!


The icing on the cake is the correct installation of a grease trap or, even better, a grease removal unit. You need to ensure you have one which is fit for purpose, ie it suits the type of food you are serving and the number of covers, and it is emptied and cleaned as part of a routine schedule. Environmental Health Officers will ensure your are having your used cooking oil collected, which is what we call the yellow grease.  Our Keep It Clear Behavioural Change Programme Team (sorry bit of a mouthful!), is working with partners to look at ways in which the brown grease, the yucky fat and food waste, can be collected too. This kind of waste can be recycled into biodiesel and other forms of energy. We are also trialling a system of visits in which we can directly help businesses like yours with the awareness, education and systems you need. It may appear that some establishments are flouting regulations designed to protect our systems and the environment. We are exploring ways to make it fair for all and really make a difference.


Find out more about how you and your kitchen colleagues can help protect the environment while you’re feeding our hungry region at: