Talk to anyone about the headlines which dominated conversations around cooking oil in 2018 and you are assured of two answers - "palm oil" and "sustainability". 

And you could say rightly so. Palm oil production is said to be responsible for 8% of the world's deforestation between 1990 and 2008. The statistics against palm oil and it's (lack of) sustainability is significant. Yet, with increasing consumer awareness, and organisations ever-more conscious of the impact on their brands and reputations, is the obsession with palm oil masking other concerns around food oil management?  


For example, waste?

Over the last 20 years, we've had the opportunity to partner with many global restaurant chains, commercial caterers and the hospitality sector. If you asked us to identify one common trend it would be this: 

Food cooking oil is being changed too frequently. 

But why? 

In our experience, there are 5 key reasons food cooking oil is being changed when it is. 

1. The status quo. It's always been done this way. Nobody knows why, but the procedure hasn't changed, and nobody wants to be the person who risks changing it. (eg oil changed every Friday morning, or when fish and chips are on the menu.) 

2. The visual check. "It looks like it needs changing." This is always based on experience, and whilst there are many trained eyes in commercial kitchens, colour is subjective. What looks like a subtle difference in oil appearance can make a big difference in working life.  

3. Person dependent. Sometimes the responsibility falls on one person. All too often that's the busiest person. Unwilling to risk product quality, and running a hectic schedule, the instruction to change the oil is sometimes given too soon. 

4. Reputation. Every chef and commercial kitchen operative wishes to serve up the best food - it is what their reputation depends on. This must be respected, but does have its drawbacks. For example, cooking oil gets changed earlier than necessary to protect product quality. As the working life of the oil is never extended, nobody is aware that it could be extended by up to 50%! 

5. Don't know better. Commercial kitchens are high-pressure environments, and there are more pressing concerns than the food oil. The current system is working, there are no problems, and everybody is happy. As a result, it doesn't get given any attention.  


That's all very well. Is there a better way? 

What gets measured, gets managed. 


To overcome these challenges requires 3 key actions: 

1. Make it measurable. Oil quality should be measured as an arbitrary number, and a threshold set for changing the oil. Regular checks mean oil life is then extended to its maximum without compromising product quality.  

2. De-skill oil management. The procedure for checking and changing cooking oil should be de-skilled. Any team member should be able to check the oil quality and then make the decision whether the oil needs changing. (Note this is only possible once arbitrary, digital measurement has been implemented).  

3. Report. Every oil quality measurement should be recorded, along with when oil was changed. Management should review this on a regular basis to make sure oil is not being changed too regularly or too late. A fully documented 'audit trail' also supports effective kitchen management and due diligence.  

Interested in how this works out practically? Concerned about rolling this out on a national or global scale? Intrigued how well-respected brands such as McDonalds and Five Guys partner with Klipspringer to implement effectively?

Reach out to Klipspringer's Consultants today for a chat about your oil management challenges and opportunities.

Posted on 29/03/2019