Fats, Oils & Grease (FOG) Program

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What is FOG?
FOG Myths
Best Management Practices















Fats, Oils, and Grease (FOG) enter the sanitary sewer through sinks, floor drains, dishwashers, and other kitchen equipment plumbed to the sanitary sewer. FOG and solid food waste entering your drains may cause blockages in either your plumbing or the sanitary sewer lines by building up along the walls of the pipes. This can lead to a sanitary sewer overflow inside your home, business, adjacent buildings, streets, or the environment. These spills are a safety hazard that can endanger public health and impact the health of our creeks and Bay.

What is FOG?

It may seem harmless to pour and scrape your fats, oils, and grease (FOG) down the kitchen drain, but it causes real trouble for your pipes, the sewer – and yourself! Common cooking FOG include:
  • Any type of cooking oil (such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, etc)
  • Salad dressings
  • Bacon grease
  • Meat fat
  • Shortening
  • Butter
  • Sauces
  • Dairy products


Residential: Keep Kitchen Drains Fat-Free

The fats, oil and grease (FOG) found in common cooking items and ingredients can cause buildups inside your house plumbing, sewer lateral, and the larger sewer mains in the street. When these items are disposed of by pouring into the kitchen sink or other drain, FOG will stick to the inside of the pipes. Over time deposits will build up, eventually clogging the sewer line. If the drain lines in your house clog, it can be expensive and messy to have the grease blockage removed.  FOG in the sewer line also increases the costs to maintain the City's sewers, which increase sewer rates for all customers. It's easy to put your kitchen sink on a fat free diet! To reduce grease-related problems at home:
  1. If oils or grease remain in the pan after cooking: Let it cool to a safe temperature and then pour or transfer it to a sealed, disposable container and place it in the trash. Never pour hot grease or oil into the trash or sink!
  2. Remove as much oil and grease from pots, pans and plates prior to washing them in the sink or putting in the dishwasher.
  3. If you wash dishes by hand, cold water will congeal FOG, making it less likely to build up in your home’s plumbing and sewer lateral.
  4. Dispose of old cosmetics, suntan lotions and other oily or greasy personal products properly, in the trash.
  5. Ignoring these easy steps could result in a grease blockage in your plumbing system, which can be expensive to remedy. Backed up or overflowing sinks and toilets are a possible result- which is messy, unsanitary, and could damage your home.Graphic Courtesy of East Bay Municipal Utility District

Common FOG Myths

Running Hot Tap Water

Running hot tap water down the drain will not help grease float through the sewer pipe because the water will eventually cool as it flows through the pipe and the grease will become solid again.

Room Temperature Oils

If oils that remain liquid at room temperature (such as extra virgin olive oil or toasted nut oils) are disposed down the drain, they will contribute to FOG buildup in sewer pipes, where temperatures can dip low enough to cause solidification of these oils.

Soaps and Detergents

The use of soaps and detergents that claim to dissolve grease will not protect against grease buildup. Soaps may initially break up grease, but as it travels further downstream it will eventually lose this ability and grease will begin to accumulate in your home's plumbing and sewer laterals.

Garbage disposals

Running the garbage disposal will do nothing to protect your drain lines from accumulating grease. Garbage disposals only shred leftover fats into smaller pieces; they do not get rid of the fats that create grease.

The best solution is always prevention, so keep FOG out of your pipes and the sewer system to avoid the inconvenience of having to call a drain cleaning service. If your sewer does back up, and you have a property line cleanout, you may call the City first. See Have a Sewer Problem? for details on how to contact the city regarding a sewer problem.

Commercial - Food Service Establishments

    Sewer backup
The FOG Control Program requirements are implemented and enforced through plan checks, inspections, and education.

Inspections are unannounced and occur during business hours. Inspectors will ask to see documentation indicating the food service facility is managing its FOG correctly, will inspect indoor and outdoor areas and review cleaning practices with staff. Upon completion, a written Inspection Report will be provided and, if needed, inspectors will conduct a follow-up inspection to verify that all violations are corrected. Uncorrected, repeated, and/or serious violations will result in escalated enforcement, up to and including fines.
Wastewater Plan Checks for Remodel or New Construction
    If you are remodeling or constructing a new food service establishment, a City Plan Check is required to ensure proper disposal of wastewater to the sanitary sewer. Prior to the City Plan Check service, obtain approval and a stamp on your plans from the Santa Clara County Health Department.
    Requirements for Food Service Establishments

    All Food Service Establishment sites from which wastewater is discharged to the sanitary sewer from sources other than standard domestic sanitary facilities (e.g., toilets, bathroom sinks), are required to complete a Food Service Checklist to be submitted with plans for Plan Check. It applies to any facility conducting commercial cooking operations including dishwashing activities and equipment cleaning that generate grease-laden wastewater. The Checklist is a guidance document for designing FOG control and protecting the sanitary sewer system. This checklist assists Building Permit applicants and those responsible for the design and installation of food service establishments to comply with the California Plumbing Code (CPC) and Santa Clara City Code (SCCC). Fill out all sections using current operating data or estimates based on similar types of businesses. Guidelines for acceptable specifications for new grease control devices (GCDs) also known as grease interceptors.


    Best Management Practices for Food Establishments

    Additional Information for Food Establishments

    See the following guidelines to managing fats, oils, and grease:

    Grease Pumpers and Haulers

    The following grease pumpers and haulers have participated in a FOG Training Program conducted by the City of San Jose on behalf of the Regional Wastewater Facility. The program covered ordinance requirements for grease control device maintenance and documentation. This list is provided as a courtesy, and is not a complete list of all the suppliers of this type of service. It is the responsibility of the person who is hiring any of these companies to verify their qualifications and references as well as their compliance with regulations on handling and transporting wastes. It is in no way implied or understood that the City of Santa Clara endorses these companies or their quality of work.

    Company Phone Number Website
    A-1 Septic Tank Services (510) 886-4455 www.a1tank.net
    All Valley Environmental, Inc. (559) 498-8378 www.allvalleyenv.com
    Baker Commodities (559) 846-9393 www.bakercommodities.com
    Burr Plumbing & Pumping (408) 287-2877 Not available.
    Darling International (800) 473-4890 www.darlingii.com
    Liquid Environmental Solutions (510) 266-5719 https://www.liquidenviro.com
    SeQuential Pacific Biodiesel (800) 447-3794 www.choosesq.com
    SRC Pumping (916) 363-1342 www.srccompanies.com

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