(Orlando, FL)---WARNING: Working in a commercial kitchen may be hazardous to your health. 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.
FiltaFry’s mobile onsite cooking oil filtration and fryer management service greatly reduces the constant threat of accidents, burns and other injuries in a commercial kitchen’s frying operation by assuming all fryer cleaning and maintenance tasks, resulting in reduced accident and insurance claims and lower labor costs because employees have more time for other responsibilities.
Because FiltaFry’s 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.
“We have about eight fryers between both our locations,” said Eggie Serrano, manager of Froggers Grill & Bar in Orlando Fla. “I would never go back to our old way of fryer maintenance because there were too many risks where my cooks were getting burned. Plus, we’re saving about $110 per week, per store now and our food tastes much better.”
Deep fryers are a mainstay of countless commercial kitchens and require constant attention, yet FiltaFry President Victor Clewes 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.
According to 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, 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.”
While FiltraFry helps employers keep a lid on the costs associated with workplace injuries, the service can save commercial kitchens considerable amounts of money through a combination of labor savings, increased equipment life, and the reduction in oil purchased. Calico Jack’s oyster bar in Jacksonville, Fla., trimmed its frying oil usage from 360 pounds to 180 pounds each week after it began using FiltaFry, while saving an average of $40 weekly after subtracting the cost of FiltaFry’s service.
Dick’s Wings, also in Jacksonville, saw its frying oil costs drop 60 percent. Aramark, which serves approximately 4,000 meals per day at the University of Central Florida is serviced by FiltaFry twice weekly and estimated its annual cooking oil savings at more than $5,400.
“It’s a great value for the money because in the long run the service pays for itself,” said James Casazza, manager of Friday's Front Row in Orlando, Fla. “We spend money to save even more money.”
Many FiltaFry customers already have built-in fryer filtration systems, but they are ineffective because they are gravity-fed systems that simply strain the oil. Conversely, FiltaFry’s pressurized micro-filtration removes the smallest contamination particles that cause oil breakdown.
According to Clewes, most built-in filtration systems are capable of filtering contamination particles to 250 microns in size. FiltaFry filters to a level of two to three microns. For comparison’s sake, a gram of salt is equal to 60 microns and the human eye can see particles to 40 microns.
“The pre-filtration system within our machine actually will achieve a much greater level of filtration than built-in systems,” Clewes said. “And that’s before we’ve passed it through our cartridge which goes through a pressure.”
Wearing Kevlar gloves, FiltaFry 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. ABC Research Corporation, a full-service food-testing laboratory in Gainesville, Fla., found that FiltaFry 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.
“You can have a great atmosphere in a restaurant but if you want to bring customers back, the taste of your food is critically important,” Clewes said. “Most of us have had some experience in a restaurant where we’ve ordered chicken and it tastes like fish.”
Accurate fryer temperature checks are also rarely taken. Thermostats can be far out of calibration, resulting in food not being cooked properly. It also increases the danger and risk of oil reaching “flash point” which may cause a fire. FiltaFry uses accurate thermometer readings to ensure correct temperature levels.
“Employees will set the dial at 350 - 365 degrees – the correct temperature dependant on the type of food – and we’ve found the fryer to actually be at 400 degrees, which is almost at flash point and they have no idea,” Clewes said.