Deep fryers are a crucial piece of equipment in every commercial kitchen but they’re also messy, unpleasant, and dangerous to maintain. Each year the food service industry experiences about 12,000 burns, according to the Burn Foundation. Cooks, food handlers, kitchen workers, and wait staff are all listed among the top 50 occupations at risk for on-the-job burn injuries.
An improperly managed fryer is not only a liability of safety-related accident and burn hazards for employees and managers, but it can be costly in wasted oil. And with oil having doubled in recent years due to pandemic and Ukraine war supply chain issues, kitchens are increasingly trusting fryer management to make the best use of this precious commodity, cooking oil.
But what exactly is a fryer management program?
Fryer management refers to the routine maintenance of fryers and cooking oil filtration that is performed daily at restaurants and food service facilities that offer deep-fried foods.
There are many benefits to an effective fryer management program, such as an increased life of cooking oil, enhanced functionality of deep fryers, improved food quality, and reduced risk of accidents.
In most commercial kitchens, cooking oil filtration is done in one of three ways:
As with any maintenance program, you get what you pay for. Kitchens with minimal planning and effort get minimal output. While it’s better than doing nothing at all, simply straining oil through a paper filter is a crude approach that will not yield positive results for the equipment, for the safety of employees, or for the life of the oil itself.
Built-In Fryer Systems
Some fryers have a feature that uses gravity to strain the oil combined with a skimmer to remove floating particles. Most of these systems can only filter contamination (food bits) up to 250 microns while an outsourced management program (see below) can filter out much small particles of two or three microns. For perspective, a grain of salt is about 60 microns. And there’s the wear and tear on the fryer itself that can add up to costly repairs.
Outsourced Fryer Management Program
Advanced systems, like Filta’s services, bring their own mobile filtration units (MFUs) into a commercial kitchen and do a thorough vacuum-based fryer cleaning and micro-filtering of the cooking oil. With Filta’s system, the oil is heated to 350F to reduce viscosity which drastically improves the effectiveness of filtering. This can make the original oil last up to twice as long, improve the taste of food, and reduce the number of times the fryer needs to be emptied and cleaned, thereby reducing the opportunity for safety and burn accidents.
And those accidents add up. During one two-year period, emergency rooms treated almost 45,000 injuries among teenaged restaurant workers alone and nearly half of those injuries involved hot grease, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). One of the last things any kitchen manager wants is an employee accident.
Combined with the other positives – making the oil last longer and improving food quality – it might be a good option for kitchen operators to outsource their fryer management program.