New Informational Posters in City Restaurants Aim to Prevent Hazardous Allergic Reactions,
Council Also Votes to Toughen Construction Requirements in City’s Coastal or Inland Zones

City Hall – At today’s Stated Council meeting, the members of the New York City Council will vote on legislation to raise awareness of food allergies by requiring the Department of Health to create food allergy postings for city restaurant workers. The Council will also vote to:
• Protect City wetlands by heightening application requirements for construction companies building in coastal and water-sensitive inland zones; and
• Reduce harmful pollutants by requiring users of street generators to utilize ultra low sulfur diesel fuels.

Additionally, the Council will vote on the following legislation:

In order to raise awareness among New York City’s restaurant workers on how to serve customers with food allergies, the Council will vote to require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to create an educational poster for use in restaurants citywide.

There are eight foods which represent 90 percent of all food allergic reactions. These foods, commonly referred to as the “Big Eight,” include milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans, many of which are also common ingredients in different types of prepared and processed foods.

The poster would contain information on food allergies, which can be the source of life-threatening health emergencies. Restaurants would post the information in a prominent location that is accessible to all employees that prepare or serve food. Restaurants that fail to comply with the law are liable for a maximum $100 penalty.

“With thousands of restaurant patrons sitting down to eat at the world’s best restaurants each day, we must teach our city’s restaurant workers how best to manage potential food allergies,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Posting this information in restaurant kitchens is a common sense step to preventing dangerous reactions caused by food allergies and keeping both New Yorkers and visitors as safe as possible.”

“This is literally a life or death issue for millions of Americans,” said Council Member Jessica Lappin, lead sponsor of the bill. “We need to make sure that food preparers in New York City understand the dangers and how to prevent fatal attacks. Deaths from food allergies are preventable if people are educated. This bill would help do that.”

“New York City has some of the finest restaurants with patrons visiting to taste amazing cuisines,” said Health Committee Chair Joel Rivera. “This legislation will help keep everyone who is impacted from food allergies even safer.”

In accordance with the City’s language access laws, the poster would be produced in Chinese, English, Korean, Russian and Spanish, as well as any other languages determined by DOHMH.

Taking steps to safeguard New York City’s wetlands, the Council will vote to heighten application requirements for construction companies seeking to develop in New York’s coastal and water-sensitive inland zones. In order to obtain proper building permits from the Department of Buildings (DOB), this legislation would require construction firms to disclose appropriate state and federal agency permits needed to develop near coastal zones.

“Our local wetlands and coastal areas are some of New York City’s most sacred natural resources,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “With this legislation we are sending the message to the construction industry that these areas are of paramount importance to our city. We simply will not approve their applications to build in these areas unless they prove to the Department of Buildings that they have the proper go-ahead from other governmental agencies.”

“This bill creates due diligence requirements to prevent unscrupulous and/or unknowing developers from building in protected coastal areas without the necessary permits,” said Council member Albert Vann, lead sponsor of the bill. “New York is a coastal city. We must be vigilant to not only protect our wetlands from development, but we must also protect unsuspecting coastal property homebuyers who may be sold waterfront properties that are not in compliance with State and Federal environmental protection laws. These laws exist not only to protect the coastal environment but also to prevent disasters like what we saw in Galveston, Texas.”

“Recent studies about our wetlands and climate change in New York City have confirmed what we have believed for a long time: in an age of threatened water quality and severe rain events we must do everything we can to protect our precious remaining wetlands,” said Environmental Protection Committee Chair James Gennaro. “This legislation is an important addition to the Council’s significant body of work to protect and preserve wetlands.”

Currently, development in the New York City coastal zone is subject to the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and typically requires the issuance of at least two state permits. Other approvals may be required for development in the coastal zone, including approvals by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

This legislation would mandate coordination between the DEC and other agencies. False statements or omissions by an applicant for construction document approval will result in building permit revocation in addition to other penalties.

Working to reduce the amount of harmful pollutants emitted by portable generators, the Council will vote to require the use of ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel in diesel generators commonly used at street fairs and by film crews. Specifically, this regulation would apply to portable generators used in the production of films, television programs and advertisements, and at street fairs. Across the five boroughs, there are currently more than 25,000 camera shooting days and 330 annual street fairs, many of which depend on portable generators.

“This change will reduce output of sulfur by up to 90% and particulates by up to 10%,” said Council member Alan J. Gerson, lead sponsor of the bill. “Children and New Yorkers of all ages will be exposed to fewer street level emissions. Considering the number of street fairs and film shoots that take place in the City, this will help us all breathe easier and is a major step toward cleaning up New York’s air. This legislation follows other laws that I have authored which have resulted in the use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel on city-contracted construction sites and for the City’s entire ferry fleet. There is still work to be done and I look forward to continuing my partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund and the Green Committee for the Producers Guild of America on this important issue.”

“This legislation is a wonderful example of how the city can act today to continue our transition to cleaner energy sources,” said Environmental Protection Committee Chair James Gennaro. “This isn’t just about long-term, global climate change; the clean air benefits of using ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel in street generators will benefit New Yorkers immediately.”

Those who violate this law would face fines of $500 for each day in which they are in violation.

This legislation, which will greatly improve New York City’s air quality, would go into effect before new federal environmental protection regulations that will require the use of ULSD fuel in diesel off-road engines in 2010.