No fried food: Health Dept. workers cringe at new rules restricting foods, fragrances, decorations
BY Kathleen Lucadamo
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Monday, April 4th 2011, 4:00 AM
Taggart for News
The new location of the NYC Department of Health located at Queens Plaza and 28th Street in Long Island City.
.No overbearing perfume. No obscene pictures. And definitely no French fries for work lunches.
That's the new edict for employees of the same city Health Department that brought you calorie-counting menus and snuffed out smoking on beaches and in parks.
The updated rules - which range from what workers can serve at agency powwows to how loud they can talk in the office - come as the Health Department begins to move into its new Queens digs today.
A set of guidelines for "Life in the Cubicle Village" sent to employees asks them to avoid wearing products with "noticeable odors" or posting "any displays, photos, cartoons, or other personal items that may be offensive."
They also should avoid eavesdropping.
If they can't - "at least resist the urge to add your comments," the cubicle rules recommend.
Employees also got a bright-colored brochure stipulating what can and can't be served at meetings and parties.
Tap water is a menu must when food or drinks are served. Other beverages must be less than 25 calories per 8 ounces.
"Cut muffins and bagels into halves or quarters, or order mini sizes. Offer thinly-sliced, whole-grain bread," the brochure states.
Deep-fried foods are an absolute no-no and "cannot be served."
For celebrations, cake and air-popped popcorn - "popped at the party and served in brown paper lunch bags" - are allowed.
But when a "celebration cake" is served, cookies can't be offered.
"These standards are mandatory for meetings and events sponsored by the Health Department," the brochure states.
Health honchos say they are just practicing what they preach.
"The Health Department is leading by example by updating its guidelines for food and beverages served at agency meetings and events," spokeswoman Erin Brady said.
Still, one Health Department worker said she was surprised by the brochure's nitpicking detail.
"This seems like micromanaging," she said.
The cubicle village tips are good - but unnecessary - advice, she said. "As somebody who does not have sensitivity to perfumes or scents or smells of people's foods, I thought it was kind of ridiculous, though I'm sure the people who do have those kinds of problems are grateful."
The gerbil-loving food choices are in step with Health Commissioner Thomas Farley's push to reduce New Yorkers salt, sugar and alcohol consumption.
The Daily News reported in December that he put the kibosh on booze at the agency's holiday bash and called for a menu that included "healthy options."
The move is expected to be complete by May.