Starting this week, chain restaurants in New York City will have to start specifically identifying any dishes that contain a high level of sodium. Excessively salty meals will be labelled with a unique symbol that is designed to inform consumers of the contents of their food. Any meal that contains more than the recommended daily limit of sodium of 2,300 milligrams will have to be labelled with a salt-shaker symbol. The requirement was originally approved by the city health board in September.
The city has made the health conscious move because of the dangers of excessive salt consumption. Eating too much salt can increase one’s risk of high blood pressure and heart issues. New York has been known for several unique nutritional moves, such as requiring restaurants to place calorie counts on menus.
New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said, “With the high sodium warning label, New Yorkers will have easily accessible information that can affect their health."
Currently, the average American takes in more than 3,400 mg of salt on a daily basis. Many common restaurant meals are known for having excess amounts of sodium. For instance, the T.G.I. Friday’s New York cheddar and bacon burger contains 4,280 mg of sodium.
Meanwhile, salt producers and restaurant owners are less than thrilled about the move. Salt makers claim that the city is misinterpreting the risks of excessive sodium consumption. An international study from last year showed that the salt intake of most people was acceptable for proper heart health. However, some scientists discredited the study. Meanwhile, restaurant owners say that the move will make it more difficult to conduct business.
New York State Restaurant Association President Melissa Fleischut said, “Every one of these cumbersome new laws makes it tougher and tougher for restaurants to find success.”
Approximately 10% of all menu items at New York City chain restaurants are expected to be affected by the new policy. Only restaurants that are considered to be chains will have to abide by the new rule. A chain restaurant is defined as any establishment that has at least 15 locations nationwide. Chain restaurants represent about one-third of all restaurant business in New York City.