New York City begins a new era in nutritional warnings this week, when chain restaurants will have to start putting a special symbol on highly salty dishes.
The first-of-its-kind rule, which takes effect Tuesday, will require a salt-shaker emblem on some sandwiches, salads and other menu items that top the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams — about a teaspoon — of sodium.
It’s the latest in a series of novel nutritional moves by the nation’s biggest city, and it comes as health advocates, federal regulators and some in the food industry are trying to get Americans to cut down on salt. Experts say most Americans consume too much salt, raising their risks of high blood pressure and heart problems. But the plan faces opposition and a potential court challenge from restaurant groups and salt producers, who say the city is going overboard.
“When you see this warning label, you know that that item has more than the total amount of sodium that you should consume in a single day,” city Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said Monday at an Applebee’s in Times Square as 40 of the chain’s New York City-area locations announced they had added the labels ahead of the deadline.
The average American consumes about 3,400 mg of salt per day, and public health advocates have cheered the measure as a smart step to make diners aware of how much sodium they’re ordering. A TGI Friday’s New York cheddar and bacon burger counts 4,280 mg, for example while a Chili’s boneless Buffalo chicken salad has 3,460 mg.
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Jeffrey R. Ungvary President