A Burning Issue
August 30, 2005
Source: Buyer Interactive
According to the Philidelphia based Burns Foundation, the foodservice industry experiences the highest number of burns of any employment sector each year.
According to the Philadelphia-based Burn Foundation, the foodservice industry experiences the highest number of burns of any employment sector each year. Cooks, food handlers, kitchen workers and wait staff are all listed among the top 50 occupations at risk for on-the-job burn injury.
Among the most dangerous duties is the removal of oil and cleaning or “boiling out” of deep fryers, a time-consuming and unpleasant task that is often left to young and inexperienced teenagers. According to Consumer Health Interactive, a 16-year-old cook in a Minnesota fast-food outlet was burned over much of his body as he was pushing a container of hot grease outside to filter it. As he reached the door, the container slipped and the lid popped off, spilling the scalding grease all over him.
Deep fryers are a mainstay of countless commercial kitchens and require constant attention, yet Victor Clewes, president of Orlando-based FiltaFry, says they often receive the least attention. “The job always seems to be given to the 16-year-old who just got hired,” Clewes said. FiltaFry says its mobile onsite cooking oil filtration and fryer management service assumes fryer cleaning and maintenance tasks, reducing the threat of accidents, burns and other injuries in a commercial kitchen’s frying operation. It says its filtration system increases the life of cooking oil, some restaurants have seen their oil costs reduced by as much as 60 percent while at the same time improving the taste and quality of their fried food.
Citing a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in which data was taken from a sample of hospitals across the country during a two-year period, the company says emergency rooms treated almost 45,000 injuries suffered by teenage restaurant workers and nearly half of the injuries involved hot grease.
The Burn Foundation says most burns are likely to occur when employees ignore safety rules, are pressed for time and take shortcuts. Most restaurants simply throw away their cooking oil, usually late at night after the kitchen has closed. It usually takes an hour for the hot oil to safely cool down, but impatience gets the best of many unlucky workers.
“That’s why there are so many burns,” Clewes said. “Oil retains heat very well and no one wants to wait as long as is necessary for it to properly cool down.”
Many kitchens have built-in fryer filtration systems, but FiltaFry says they are ineffective because they are gravity-fed systems that simply strain the oil. Conversely, the company’s pressurized micro-filtration removes the small contamination particles that cause oil breakdown.
According to Clewes, most built-in filtration systems can filter contamination particles to 250 microns in size. He says his filter to a level of two to three microns. (A gram of salt is equal to 60 microns and the human eye can see particles to 40 microns.)
Wearing Kevlar gloves, the company’s technicians pump the 350-degree oil through the filtration system. Because the oil is filtered while heated, its viscosity is reduced and filtering is improved. Citing ABC Research Corp., a food-testing laboratory in Gainesville, Fla., FiltaFry said it removed 43 percent of the polar compounds that cause the degradation of cooking oil while it also slowed the build-up of free fatty acids. Coal tar and transfats are also reduced. The improved quality of the cooking oil translates into better-tasting food, it added.
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