Court Says NYC’s Salt Warning Labels Can Go Into Effect As Planned

Despite efforts from a restaurant trade group to stop a New York City rule requiring warning labels on foods high in sodium from going into effect, a state appeals court says the city can begin enforcing the rule as planned starting June 6.

The decision was handed down by a panel of justices from the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court in Manhattan, and denied a request to delay the labels while a lawsuit filed by the National Restaurant Association against the city is pending appeal, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The trade group doesn’t want the city’s Board of Health to be able to enforce a 2015 rule requiring restaurant chains with at least 15 locations nationwide to add a warning label on any menu items that have more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, or about a teaspoon’s worth.

After a state justice upheld the rule in February, saying it was an informational label that didn’t stop consumers from buying certain items, the trade group appealed.

A restaurant association spokeswoman says she hopes the health department will still delay enforcement on its own, telling the WSJ that the ruling “will force the men and women that own New York City’s restaurants to start complying with this unlawful and unprecedented sodium mandate before the court has the chance to rule on the merits of our appeal.”

City officials are pleased with the decision, say it’ll help people make better-informed decisions. Enforcement will go ahead as planned on June 6, the health department says.

“Restaurant chains throughout the city have already begun posting the warning labels on their menus and helping New Yorkers watch the salt,” said NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett in a statement [PDF]. “Diners are now empowered to make informed decisions to lower their sodium intake and reduce the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and other heart-related ailments.”