[UPDATE BELOW] A bill in Albany that would prohibit eating food on the subway with fines up to $250 for violators, does not have the support of the new MTA chief Joseph Lhota. Although Lhota was known as the "rat czar" when he was deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani, he thinks an outright food consumption ban would adversely impact poor people who inhale their greasy stinking McDonald's on the train because there's simply nowhere else for them to eat. Also, think of the children! "It severely hurts and impacts minority communities," Lhota tells the Times. "I don’t want to deny the kid the only time that day he’s going to get food."

One of the State Senators who introduced the bill, Bill Perkins, claims he's surprised by Lhota's food stance, and insists that earlier this month Lhota said he'd support the bill. "If that’s his position, I’m sorry to hear that," Perkins tells the Times. "I think there is a great need for us to control eating in the subways to get control of the rodent infestation." (Isn't that what the opossums are for?!) And Lhota's opinion of Perkins? "As a legislator, he does nothing but talk and talk and talk, and he does nothing."

Currently, food is not prohibited on the subway, but it is discouraged; in addition, all open beverages are illegal, from coffee to Courvoisier. A recent Straphangers Campaign survey scared up rats at 11% of underground station platforms, and our highly scientific Gothamist survey showed overwhelming support for an eating ban. But it's not worth the risk—Lhota doesn't want any emaciated minority children dying of famine on the subway on his watch!

UPDATE: Lhota just issued this statement: "I would like to apologize to Senator Perkins for my comments in the NY Times today. Bill is an excellent legislator with great constituent services, and I share his commitment to addressing the problem of rat proliferation in New York City. Though we agree on many rat related issues, we disagree on banning food on the subways. I have a great deal of respect for Senator Perkins."