Welcome to the Big (Salty) Apple


New York City, one of the few places in America where your choice of ordering the world’s many cuisines at almost any hour of the day or night seems unlimited, is one of the first cities to implement calorie labeling on restaurant menus (a rule that will go national by the end of next year). Now New York has gone a step further and will require sodium counts on some menu items as well.

Limiting sodium, of course, can do wonders for blood pressure and heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes over double the amount of recommended sodium, and a lot of that can come from restaurant food. For instance, according to Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI) Xtreme Eating Awards, some restaurant meal packages dish up over three times the daily recommended amount of sodium.

The rule applies only to chain restaurants, and only to menu items that exceed 2,300 mg of sodium, which NYC considers to be the total daily recommendation for sodium. It goes into effect on December 1 and covers about ten percent of menu items in the city.

While some salt industry and restaurant groups complain that this rule is unfair and based on “bad science,” the health and wellness community is happy to see this change. For instance, Michael F. Jacobson of CSPI favors the rule and has high hopes for what it means for the future of American eating:

I hope that New York City’s move will spur restaurants to voluntarily lower sodium levels nationally and embolden public health authorities around the country to require sodium warnings on menus. The city’s action might even prompt the Food and Drug Administration to come down from its perch on the sidelines and issue its long-awaited voluntary sodium-reduction targets for the industry to consider.

Will sodium labeling requirements expand across the U.S.? Let’s not forget that New York City has pioneered rules before that have gone national, such as a ban on trans-fats and calorie labeling on chain restaurant menus. And, although a NYC soda-ban ultimately failed, there is renewed support for a national rule that would work toward the same end. Time will tell, but we are happy to see NYC leading the nation once again in promoting healthier, more-aware ways of eating.


Read all articles by Damon Cory-Watson



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