In 2022, oil dominated global headlines: a constantly revolving door of rising oil prices, supply chain issues, and sustainability breaches.

Countries worldwide are admitting to massive shortages, with even oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia revealing that their reserves are running out.

Lower-income households struggled to afford cooking oil – let alone fill up their petrol tanks – while protests called for windfall taxes on the soaring profits of energy giants like Shell and BP.

Rising Oil Prices

On June 8, the global oil price rose above £123 per barrel ($147), matching the all-time high price points of the 2008 recession.

Cooking oil prices have also increased astronomically, doubling to $1.90 (£1.60) per litre in the UK, and $2.72 (£2.29) per litre on international average.

The current rises in oil prices are unprecedented, and are being caused by factors such as:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic
  • Increased biodiesel demand in the EU
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
  • Extreme weather in Western Canada and South America (prominent areas of global oil exportation)

These circumstances culminated in strong global demand for oil, but extraordinarily weak supply.

At Klipspringer, we watched in disbelief as oil prices reached near-unaffordable levels, but few companies implemented failsafe methods to cut waste, save on costs, and increase sustainability.

In commercial kitchens, the dangers of unsafe oil are well-known, particularly relating to acrylamide build-up.

Despite this, research has indicated that most companies actually discard their cooking oil more often than necessary.

Why is this?

Why Are Most Companies Changing Oil Unnecessarily?

In our experience, there are three key reasons why food cooking oil is being changed prematurely…

1) 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. This line of thinking typically sees oil changed once or twice a week, or every Friday morning, or when fish and chips are on the menu.

2) Visual checks. “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 massive difference to its working life.

3) Colorimetric methods. The most common colorimetric method is test strips and a colour chart. This measures FFA, or Free Fatty Acids, which directly correlate to off-colours, off-odours, and off-flavours in fried food products. While compliant and reasonably accurate (usually around 80% accuracy), colorimetric methods are still subjective to human error, and can be contaminated by improper storage.

What Is the Best Way of Knowing When Oil Needs Changing?

At Klipspringer, based on our twenty-plus-years’ experience as the industry leaders in removing the guesswork from food oil management, we recommend the following steps to maximise your oil life, in-keeping with the below graph of oil degradation.

  • 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.
  • De-technicalise oil management. All unnecessary complexity should be removed from oil-checking and changing procedures. Any team member should be able to check the oil quality and then make an entirely objective decision as to whether it needs replacing. This is only possible once arbitrary, digital measurement has been implemented.
  • Report. Every oil quality measurement should be recorded. As should the date and time when the oil was last 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 circumvents non-conformances.

In terms of practically implementing these steps, we recommend a solution based on neither status quo, nor visual checks, nor colorimetric methods.

This solution has been used by the likes of Five Guys, McDonalds, and Whitbread to refine their frying process, conduct eco-friendly practices, and cut their oil usage by half.

Click here to find more about this solution.