A Salty Lawsuit


I have mixed emotions about this story.


The nuts and bolts: Two New Jersey law firms have filed a class-action lawsuit against Denny’s, claiming the sodium content in the restaurant chain’s menu options is endangering public health.

High-sodium diets are associated with hypertension, heart disease and stroke.

True, some of Denny’s most popular meals have shockingly high sodium levels. Moons Over My Hammy (a ham, egg and cheese sandwich) has 2,580 mg sodium, and it’s served with hash browns (650 mg sodium) or grits (840 mg). Denny’s Meat Lover’s Scramble (two eggs with chopped bacon, diced ham, crumbled sausage and Cheddar cheese, served with two bacon strips, two sausage links, hash browns and two pancakes) has an indefensible 5,690 mg sodium.

Plaintiff Nick DeBenedetto, 48, has regularly eaten at Denny’s for many years, and he takes prescription meds to help control his blood pressure. One of his favorite menu items is the Hammy thing—a breakfast platter he “never would have selected” if he’d know its sodium content, he says.

“It’s as if Denny’s is stacking the deck against people like me,” he laments.

Not so fast, Nick. People with hypertension know they’re supposed to watch their sodium intake. What made you think these meals were good for you? Do you take any personal responsibility for your dietary choices?

For its part, Denny’s believes the lawsuit is “frivolous and without merit” and plans to “fight it aggressively in court.” The company also stated: “With hundreds of items on the menu, Denny’s offers a wide variety of choices for consumers with different lifestyles, understanding that many have special dietary needs.”

So, do I side with Denny’s? Absolutely not. The chain aggressively advertises unhealthful meal choices.

The only winners here are the attorneys, whose “healthy” fees turn a public-health problem into a media circus.

Eating a Denny’s Scramble is a personal decision. Eating a healthy organic diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, is a more sensible one. Should DeBenedetto seek monetary damages for choosing the former?

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