It’s that time of year again – avoiding the Thanksgiving “Fatberg”
Thanksgiving is that special time of year that we gather together with family and friends to give thanks and experience traditions that are carried on through generations. Our Thanksgiving meal consists of: roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and homemade cranberry sauce. We also serve the not-so-customary stuffed artichokes – a family favorite, passed down from my Italian grandparents.
I always enjoy the planning, preparation and execution of this holiday, but have never been a fan of the clean-up. For me, the worst part of the holiday – the part I absolutely dread – is clearing the kitchen strainer of what I refer to as “wet” food. You know what I’m talking about – those small, soggy, squishy pieces of food that you have to dig and scrape at with your fingers to get them out of the strainer and into the trashcan.
Until I became a homeowner, I didn’t realize that the fats, oils and grease (known as FOG) which are found in food such as butter, lard, sauces and dairy products play a serious role in clogging our sewer lines and drains. In extreme cases, these clogs can form large, solid masses known as fatbergs, which block our pipes and wastewater system. If you want additional information about FOG and fatbergs, check out our previous blog (Fats, Oils and Grease, Oh My!).
If you have ever wanted to see a live fatberg, the Museum of London has set up a live-streaming “FatCam” with 24/7 viewing of its slice of the 143-ton Whitechapel Fatberg! Gross. If the thought of seeing a live fatberg makes you nauseous, read below for some fun facts instead.
FOG Fun Facts:
- Once down a drain, fats, oils and grease solidify into a solid mass, reducing pipe capacity and restricting flow.
- Meat, and other greasy food scraps ground up in the garbage disposal also become FOG and accumulate in pipes.
- FOG is responsible for 47% of all reported sewer blockages in the United States.
How to help prevent fatbergs:
- Never pour fats, oil or grease down the drain or into toilets or garbage disposals. Instead, pour them into an empty container when warm and allow them to cool. Once cool, put the container in a sealed bag (to avoid spillage) and throw it away.
- Scrape meats and foods with fat and grease into the trash
- Use baskets or strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps
- Use garbage disposal for fruits, vegetables and organic waste
For more information, read a few of our application notes which describe oil & grease analysis, an important step in determining how much grease is discharged into our drinking water and how much is present prior to being treated at a wastewater treatment plant.
On a lighter note, a recent article in Smithsonian.com, states that researchers are developing a new method for recycling greasy sewer blockages into biofuel!