Permits food service in funeral establishments subject to certain restrictions and qualifications.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the public health law, in relation to food service in funeral establishments
PURPOSE: To give families of deceased individuals the option of consuming food and beverages in a funeral home.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Adds new Public Health Law § 3444 to provide that a funeral establishment may provide space, facilities, equipment or supplies for the preparation, sale, service, distribution, or consumption of food or beverages in the funeral establishments to or by persons in the funeral establishment for the purpose of arranging for, attending, or participating in the care and preparation of a body of a deceased person for disposition, mourning, a funeral or memorial ceremony or service, or an open house or similar community function.
Activities under this section may include the services of a caterer not owned by or affiliated with the funeral establishment. Employees of the funeral establishment may prepare beverages and may serve food or beverages under this section. This would not be allowed in the embalming or preparation rooms, nor include alcoholic beverages unless required by the decedent's or families religion.
JUSTIFICATION: For several decades, NYS regulation has had a wide-ranging prohibition on allowing any type of food or beverage in a funeral home, including water. This outright blanket ban was put into place at a time when the serving and consumption of food and beverages was limited almost exclusively to restaurants, dining halls and, of course, homes. Indeed, the regulation was supported at that time by the funeral service sector. This bill would over-ride that that regulation.
However, whether in rural, suburban or metropolitan areas of New York State, our citizens' expectations and preferences have changed greatly since the 1950's, bringing about a current time and place where the very presence and consumption of food and beverages is part and parcel of virtually every type of gathering or event. This most certainly includes funeral and memorial services, which themselves have transformed from strictly solemn events to occasions where the deceased is remembered through more of a life celebration.
With this in mind, it is a most appropriate time in our societal anthology to permit funeral directors to provide additional comfort to the family, friends and loved ones of a deceased person by allowing them to make available food and/or beverages to these grieving individuals right in the funeral home.
This bill would provide a modicum of regulatory relief to our funeral firms and, in so doing, would allow families to consume food and beverages in a funeral home, providing some needed additional comfort at a time of need.
The bill would rightfully prohibit any food or beverage in a funeral home's embalming and preparation room. Alcoholic beverages would also be prohibited in a funeral establishment, unless religious practices demand otherwise.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None
EFFECTIVE DATE: 180 days after it becomes a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7747 IN SENATE June 4, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. LITTLE -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Health AN ACT to amend the public health law, in relation to food service in funeral establishments THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The public health law is amended by adding a new section 3444 to read as follows: S 3444. FOOD SERVICE IN FUNERAL ESTABLISHMENTS. (A) A FUNERAL ESTAB- LISHMENT MAY PROVIDE SPACE, FACILITIES, EQUIPMENT OR SUPPLIES FOR THE PREPARATION, SALE, SERVICE, DISTRIBUTION OR CONSUMPTION OF FOOD OR BEVERAGES IN THE FUNERAL ESTABLISHMENT TO OR BY PERSONS IN THE FUNERAL ESTABLISHMENT FOR THE PURPOSE OF ARRANGING FOR, ATTENDING OR PARTICIPAT- ING IN THE CARE AND PREPARATION OF A BODY OF A DECEASED PERSON FOR DISPOSITION, MOURNING, A FUNERAL OR MEMORIAL CEREMONY OR SERVICE, OR AN OPEN HOUSE OR SIMILAR COMMUNITY FUNCTION. (B) ACTIVITIES UNDER THIS SECTION MAY INCLUDE THE SERVICES OF A CATER- ER NOT OWNED BY OR AFFILIATED WITH THE FUNERAL ESTABLISHMENT. EMPLOYEES OF THE FUNERAL ESTABLISHMENT MAY PREPARE BEVERAGES AND MAY SERVE FOOD OR BEVERAGES UNDER THIS SECTION. (C) NO ACTIVITIES UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL TAKE PLACE IN THE EMBALMING OR PREPARATION ROOM OF THE FUNERAL ESTABLISHMENT, UNLESS REQUIRED BY THE RELIGIOUS PRACTICES OF THE DECEASED PERSON OR THE DECEASED PERSON'S FAMILY AND SUBJECT TO OTHERWISE APPLICABLE LAW AND REGULATIONS. NO ACTIVITIES UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL INCLUDE THE CONSUMPTION OF ANY ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE, UNLESS REQUIRED BY THE RELIGIOUS PRACTICES OF THE DECEASED PERSON OR THE DECEASED PERSON'S FAMILY, AND SUBJECT TO OTHER- WISE APPLICABLE LAW AND REGULATIONS. A FUNERAL ESTABLISHMENT SHALL NOT BE DEEMED TO BE A FOOD SERVICE ESTABLISHMENT BECAUSE OF ACTIVITIES UNDER THIS SECTION. S 2. This act shall take effect one hundred eighty days after it shall become a law, provided that the commissioner of health is authorized and directed to make regulations and take other actions necessary to imple- ment this act on that date.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD15463-01-4