Fats, Oils, and Grease

Let us paint a familiar scene: you sit down to a meal, enjoy it, clean up and go on with your life. But where do the by-products of that meal – the fats, oil, grease, and food scraps – go? As a health conscious community, we worry a lot about where our food comes from, but we rarely consider where the leftovers go.

The majority of our food naturally contains fats, oils, or grease (FOG) and, even when they do not, we use them for cooking and to add flavor. For this reason restaurants and other food service establishments are required to have grease traps that capture FOG and prevent them from entering the public sanitary sewer system. Without the aid of these devices, these food residues harden in the sewer pipes and clog the system, often causing back-ups and wastewater discharges that can threaten public health and are costly to clean-up.

To prevent grease blockages and overflows non-residential facilities are required to obtain a Grease Discharge Operating (GDO) permit from Miami Dade County.  As part of this program, County and City staff inspects FOG-generating facilities and ensure that their grease traps are properly installed and maintained regularly.

In addition to grease traps, there are other steps that both food establishments and that you can take at home to reduce FOG-related incidents. These include proper food disposal procedures, such as not cleaning greasy equipment outdoors and not pouring FOG and solid food scraps down the drain.

Do’s and Do Not’s

  • DO install a strainer or catch basket in sink and floor drains
  • DO place cooled cooking oil , grease, and fats in containers and discard with your regular garbage
  • DO use paper towels to wipe off residual grease or oil off of pots and pans before washing them
  • DO remember that pollution prevention starts in the kitchen
  • DO NOT dispose of food scraps or paper products down the sink or toilet
  • DO NOT use hot water and soap to wash grease down the drain, this will cause it to harden within the sewer pipes
  • DO NOT pour cooking oil, pan drippings, bacon grease, salad dressings, or sauces down the sink or toilet, or into street gutters or storm drains.


For more information on FOG and Grease Discharge Operating permits, please contact the Environment and Sustainability division at 305.673.7010 or visit www.miamibeachfl.gov/green.


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