In New York, chain restaurants are now required to post a warning on menus when their foods contain high levels of salt. The mandate was unanimously approved the Board of Health on Wednesday. The requirement applies to any food establishment with at least 15 locations nationwide. The purpose of this mandate is to reduce high blood pressure, which causes an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, and is directly linked to salt intake.
The Health Department said in a statement, “High sodium intake is dangerous. With a simple menu icon and statement to alert restaurant customers which items have exceedingly high sodium, New Yorkers will have easily accessible information.”
With the decision, applicable New York restaurants are now required to identify any menu items which contain more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium. This value represents the recommended daily limit. Any dish that exceeds the limit will be required to have a warning label.
The mandate falls in line with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to making strides towards a healthier eating environment. Blasio is continuing an effort started by former mayor Michael Bloomberg, who notably banned trans fats and mandated that calorie counts be placed on the menus of chain restaurants.
Yet Blasio’s policies transcend beyond those of Bloomberg.
Not everyone is happy with the new mandate. The restaurant industry has critiqued the measure, stating that it is costly and unnecessary. Spokesman for the New York State Restaurant Association Kevin Dugan has stated that the group has yet to decide as to whether or not they will appeal the new policy.
Chief executive officer of the association Melissa Fleishut said, “This is just the latest in a long litany of superfluous hoops that restaurants here in New York must jump through. Every one of these cumbersome new laws makes it tougher and tougher for restaurants to find success.”
Currently one in every three deaths in New York City is the result of heart disease. The issue is particularly alarming for African-Americans, as 36% of black adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure. This rate is 50% higher than for whites according to surveys from the health department.
Additionally, as a part of the Affordable Care Act, new federal regulations will soon require chains of twenty restaurants or more to offer various nutritional information, such as calorie counts to customers. However, the FDA delayed the implementation of this new law until the completion of the 2016 presidential election.