Frying Fish and Shrimp In Same Oil, Contamination? - Fast Casual

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Hi Chefs. I’m opening a seafood focused fast casual restaurant in a major metropolitan area. Part of the operation includes frying fish and shrimp. I’ll also be frying french fries, crispy garnishes, chips and other foods that need to be vegetarian. My plan is to get 3 fryers - 1 for fish, 1 for shrimp and 1 for the aforementioned vegetarian foods. All 3 of the fryers will have built in filtration systems. I was going to get 2 of the fryers as part of a combo unit that has 2 fry pots but only 1 filter. I would use this combo unit for fish and shrimp. Vegetarian foods would have their own fryer. The issue is that the filter for the seafood fryer would filter the oil from both of the pots so the fish oil and shrimp oil would eventually mix together whenever the oil is filtered. The question is, would most guests consider this a contamination issue or would guests understand that cross contamination in this kind of environment is unavoidable. Of course I would I put up a sign stating that while we do our efforts to keep the shrimp and fish separately, we cannot guarantee a zero cross contamination environment. I think that regardless of whether we filter the fish and shrimp oil together, I would put up a sign describing the likelihood of cross contamination between seafood and other food on the menu. After all, this is a seafood focused restaurant.

Any other suggestions welcome. Thank you.
 
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It's a good question. I fry my prawn burger, squid rings and fish strips all in one oil and have never thought about what you are saying but now when I think about it I recon Jewish people might have a problem with the shellfish on religious grounds. Apart from that I don't see a problem...
 
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It's a good question. I fry my prawn burger, squid rings and fish strips all in one oil and have never thought about what you are saying but now when I think about it I recon Jewish people might have a problem with the shellfish on religious grounds. Apart from that I don't see a problem...


I don't see a problem here at all, as long as the fryer oil is filtered regularly and disposed of in a timely manner.
 
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It's a good question. I fry my prawn burger, squid rings and fish strips all in one oil and have never thought about what you are saying but now when I think about it I recon Jewish people might have a problem with the shellfish on religious grounds. Apart from that I don't see a problem...

What about allergies? That and kosher diet restrictions are my concerns.
 
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I would think that a person who keeps Kosher would not eat out to begin with, or if they do, they probably could care less.
 
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Are you sure 3 fryers is even enough for a fast casual concept? A lot of places like that I've seen have more fryers than that. If you bought 1 more fryer you could do the double for fish, 1 for shellfish and 1 veg.

Anyways, I'm not sure about the filtration. I would suspect that the filtration does not filter allergens. Remember that you can't please 100% of people, and people that eat Kosher are unlikely to eat out at a fish fry place, for exactly the reasons you stated. The fryer manufacturer should be able to tell you more about the filtration system.

People with severe seafood/shellfish allergies are the same.

I would concentrate of having a couple alternative methods for cooking fish (bake, etc) that won't interfere with allergies.

Kudos for setting up your kitchen in such a way as to avoid this stuff. I think too many kitchens just chuck everything in the same fryer...and often you can tell. Even from a food quality standpoint (the allergy/kosher issue aside) it will be good.
 
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Setting aside religious restrictions you may have a conflict with shellfish allergies. An anaphylactic reaction to shellfish can be fatal. Then again you could post warnings in the menu about traces of shellfish in seafood but that’s a risk in today’s litigation prone society. To be honest I’m not sure but I myself wouldn’t risk it.
 
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Setting aside religious restrictions you may have a conflict with shellfish allergies. An anaphylactic reaction to shellfish can be fatal. Then again you could post warnings in the menu about traces of shellfish in seafood but that’s a risk in today’s litigation prone society. To be honest I’m not sure but I myself wouldn’t risk it.
 
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Not a pro, apologies. But a little information that may be useful to the OP and others.

Kashrut (kosher): yes, the oil is contaminated (unclean). But so is any surface that touches shellfish under any circumstances. No, you can't mitigate this. Diners who keep truly strict kosher won't eat in your restaurant, as you serve treyf. Those who are more flexible in interpreting Halakhic law may eat at your place, but they'll ask a lot of questions about preparation. Unless there is a large Jewish community nearby, it's probably not worth worrying about: the law is exceedingly complex, and if you serve shellfish at all, you're pretty much outside of Jewish legal concerns from the get-go.
 
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Setting aside religious restrictions you may have a conflict with shellfish allergies. An anaphylactic reaction to shellfish can be fatal. Then again you could post warnings in the menu about traces of shellfish in seafood but that’s a risk in today’s litigation prone society. To be honest I’m not sure but I myself wouldn’t risk it.

As a chef you have a responsibility to keep people safe. It's actually a much more huge responsibility on waiters and waiters and waitresses who don't take their job seriously. In 20 years I've had 2 people taken out of my restaurants. One with a peanut allergy, the waitress, didn't know the menu, the other real siliac on a kid ( not fake glutards), waitress brought him an homeade ice cream sandwich because they got there own deserts for the kids menu

If you are super religious or a vegan and you might have an anourism or nervous breakdown because you found out your chicken fingers or falafill was fried in the oil that shrimp was fried in its on you. Take some personal responsibility for your lifestyle. The rest of the 99 % of the worlds population don't have those problems.

If you have life threatening allergies it sucks, but you also have to take personal responsibility I do and have shot an epipen in my thigh, more than a couple times(not food related) If you go out to eat order something safe. You never know if the 18 year old line cook just finished smoking his blunt and might forget to leave something out of your dish.
 
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I really don't think people with fish allergies are going to eat in a "a seafood focused fast casual restaurant". I also don't think you're going to get many Jewish people following kosher either. Focus on the population you will be getting and not that tissue thin chance of those you will rarely if ever see. How many Chinese places serve pizzas and Italian beefs?
 
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Thanks for all of your responses. I agree in regards to the Kosher angle. That was actually a stupid question. Guests following Kosher diets wouldn't come in anyway. So to restate my original question more directly: If I fry fish and shrimp in the same oil but I put up signs/warnings in the line or the menu that cross contamination between shrimp and other food items will occur (albeit more eloquently), should I be concerned about inadvertently serving guests who are allergic to shellfish any shrimp laced food? Is someone with a shellfish allergy responsible for themselves when it comes to what they consume? I can't seem to grasp where my responsibility begins and ends in a fast casual environment. It's not as if I can ask each guest coming down the line if they have any "diet restrictions or allergies".
 
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No , no, and no. We are not talking about puppies and unicorns. It's common sense. Find out your legal obligations of what you need in small prints at the bottom of the menu. I'f you are good at what you do and cook good food, relax. Remember, look out for your self in this business, and don,'t be afraid to tell someone no if you can't back it up
 
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I don't understand why this is an issue to begin with. Seems like the OP is obsessing over nothing.
There are people who allergic to fish as well. Will they come in a order shrimp fried in the same oil as fish?
If a potential customer is or is not allergic to either fish or shellfish, they won't be coming to eat at your place, cause they are educated enough to know.
 
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I don't understand why this is an issue to begin with. Seems like the OP is obsessing over nothing.
There are people who allergic to fish as well. Will they come in a order shrimp fried in the same oil as fish?
If a potential customer is or is not allergic to either fish or shellfish, they won't be coming to eat at your place, cause they are educated enough to know.

Yes. I am obsessed. Obsessed over service, quality and experience. I would be remiss to ignore the dangers of potential allergies. Liability aside, it's a very sensitive issue. I doubt you would call it "nothing" if you were allergic to shellfish.
 
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Folks with allergies (or religious dietary restrictions) tend to self-monitor... just like ardent vegetarians.

This is not a new problem. If you are not comfortable with the suggestions given here then maybe you should consider consulting an allergist, lawyer and rabbi/imam.

I live in a family with peanut allergy. It’s interesting to many that peanut oil doesn’t carry the protein required to invite allergic response. But we always appreciate a menu notation that it’s being used so we can decide on what to do.

Other family member developed shellfish allergy late in life. He just stays away from places that serve shellfish. Very inconvenient and constraining. He also worries about contamination in markets where both meat and fish share space. His life is difficult but he doesn’t need a cook to help him manage his diet or exposure... other than the types of menu notations we now largely enjoy in the US.

WRT oil, I’d worry more about flavor transfer between fish/shrimp and potato.
 
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from http://www.nfsmi.org/documentlibraryfiles/PDF/20130227020029.pdf
pay attention to last sentence
Food Allergy F
Act Sheet
National Food Service Management Institute • The University of Mississippi
• 2012
4
common Questions
Are there any special concerns with cross-
contact when preparing food for children
with shellfish allergies?
Cross-contact is a concern for all allergens, but there
are specific concerns related to shellfish allergies.
Frying is not a recommended method of cooking in
schools, but if shellfish is fried, the cooking oil can
become contaminated. If you have students with
shellfish allergies, no food for this student should be
cooked in the same oil that was used to cook shellfish
or shellfish products. Cross-contact also can occur
from utensils and grills.
 
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If you're worried about it, then I would either invest in more fryers, or put a warning on the menu.

I run a seafood restaurant and get the shellfish questions alot. My immediate answer is that I can make NO safety guarantees that shellfish were not cooked in any of my fryers. I of course have certain dedicated fryers, but I will never make a guarantee that I am not willing to be liable for or could potentially affect the health of another person.

If someone has an allergy, it is their responsibility to attend to their own health. They will ask questions.
 
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Joined Dec 2, 2017
If you're worried about it, then I would either invest in more fryers, or put a warning on the menu.

I run a seafood restaurant and get the shellfish questions alot. My immediate answer is that I can make NO safety guarantees that shellfish were not cooked in any of my fryers. I of course have certain dedicated fryers, but I will never make a guarantee that I am not willing to be liable for or could potentially affect the health of another person.

If someone has an allergy, it is their responsibility to attend to their own health. They will ask questions.

Thank you. This makes sense.
 
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It also might behoove you to consult a lawyer re: culpability for allergies. Common sense would tell most of us that a fast casual fish fry place would not be a "safe" place for an allergy restricted person to eat. However, a lawyer should be able to tell you what steps you need to take to remove your liability...our society is so litigious that you probably want to protect yourself if possible.

When dealing with the general public I would assume nothing about their ability to self-regulate.
 

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