New York City will begin enforcing its requirement for chain restaurants to warn patrons of overly salty foods on June 6. An appeals court granted the city permission to begin issuing fines of up to $600 for restaurants not in accordance with the regulation designed to help diners limit their daily salt intake.
The appeals court is currently hearing the second round of the lawsuit filed by the National Restaurant Association, after the city won the first round in February. While the appeal is ongoing, the court decided to lift the temporary hold on the issuing of fines.
Mayor Bill de Blasio calls this "a common-sense regulation that will help New Yorkers make better decisions and lead healthier lives," reports Crain’s.
The rule, which was first passed in December, is the first of its kind. Some restaurants have already begun using a salt shaker icon to indicate foods containing more than 2,300 mg of sodium, which is the FDA recommended daily limit.
“The average American adult consumes almost 50 percent more sodium than the recommended limit per day,” writes NYC Health, in the official guidelines for food service establishments. “Restaurant food tends to have more sodium than food prepared at home.”
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The restaurant association, however, argues that such regulations should be left up to the federal government, saying that the requirement violates the free speech rights of restaurateurs.
Aside from requiring that the salt shaker icon be placed next to any food item on the menu with upwards of 2,300 mg of sodium, the rule also requires restaurants to post the following statement somewhere where it is visible to customers: “Warning: indicates that the sodium (salt) content of this item is higher than the total daily recommended limit (2,300 mg). High sodium intake can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke.”
The rule applies to the New York City locations of chains with more than 15 restaurants nationwide.
Exceeding the recommended daily limit of sodium has been linked to several health problems, including increased blood pressure, and increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Doctors recommend that people limit daily salt intake to reduce the possibility of these conditions developing or worsening.
Salt image via Shutterstock