Salt Labels Could Appear Next To Menu Items In NYC’s Chain Restaurants As Soon As December

It’s been a little more than a month since New York City’s Department of Health unveiled a proposal that would require all chain restaurants to add a salt shaker symbol (or something similar) on the menu next to items that contain more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium, or about 1 teaspoon of salt. Though there’s been plenty of pushback, that proposal could become the law of the land as soon as December.

If Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal does end up going through, it would make NYC the first city to have such a requirement regarding salt. The measure was the hot ticket at a public hearing yesterday at NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Queens, reports the Wall Street Journal, ahead of a Board of Health vote on the proposal slated for September.

Restaurant groups are not pleased with the idea, calling the proposal overly burdensome, as it would require businesses to overhaul their menus. This, after many restaurants had to redo their menus to add calorie counts recently in the city. New federal menu-labeling standards will also go into effect in 2016, meaning some restaurants would have to redo their printed menus again.

“I think the idea that here we go again, with special boards and menus in New York City, is very frustrating,” Melissa Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association told the WSJ.

There’s also some confusion over whether the icon would be required on items that usually feed more than one person, like a pizza. An entire pie would require the salt label, for example, but a single slice might not.

On the other hand, health advocates applauded the proposal, though some said it doesn’t go far enough.

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, called it a “groundbreaking public-health initiative.” But, he said, “it’s an extraordinarily conservative approach.”

A spokeswoman for the mayor defended the measure, saying that the warning label is part of de Blasio’s strategy to lower the city’s premature mortality rate by 25% by 2040.

“Excess sodium intake is dangerous and linked to increased blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke,” she said. “With this warning label, we can increase awareness about the risks.”

If the Board of Health approves the measure, the new rule could go into effect as soon as Dec. 1, though penalties wouldn’t be imposed for the first six months.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Salt Proposal Shakes Things Up [Wall Street Journal]