New Regulations Threaten New York's Wood-Burning Ovens and Food Trucks

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Coal and wood-burning ovens are affected. Photo: Robyn Lee/The Girl Who Ate Everything

Yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced support for an overhaul of the air-pollution control code — the biggest since 1975, in fact — which would have a profound impact on restaurants and food trucks throughout the city. The stated goal is to target "pollution sources that currently have little or no emission control requirements," the mayor's office says, and it turns out that most of those are food-related.

The changes are really just meant to discourage New Yorkers from using things that burn wood and coal, to make things like Neapolitan pizza and whole-roasted animals. All commercial kitchens with ovens and char-broilers that cook at least 875 pounds of meat or seafood a week, not to mention restaurants that wood-fire their pies, would eventually have to install what DEP spokesman Ed Timbers described as "control technology." "Basically, it's a device that captures the smoke and filters out particulate matter," he tells Capital New York (subscription only). "If you're a pizza place that's been around 20 years, you will also have to install it, but you will be given more time to comply."

Ditto food trucks with fridges, which would need to adopt to battery-powered appliances and what is being called "the cleanest technology" in order to avoid penalties. Trucks delivering frozen food would also face fines for idling. There's been no comment from the New York State Restaurant Association, which yesterday posted a guide to creating sustainable establishments online in honor of Earth Day. The city, in the meantime, argues that the code changes will "save hundreds of lives every year."

De Blasio Air Quality Rules Would Target Restaurants, Food Trucks [Newsday]