NYC Court Puts Sodium Warning Labels Back on Restaurant Menus

'Atlantic Grill Restaurant'

Under the new rules, some New York City restaurants will be forced to place sodium warning labels on high-sodium menu items .

The Appellate Division in Manhattan decided May 26 that the city can proceed with its plan of making New Yorkers aware of the high sodium content in their favorite dishes at some restaurant chains.

The plan, which was previously stalled by one of the appellate court’s own judges, was praised by mayor DeBlasio. He said that city residents have a right to know when the recommended daily intake of salt is contained in a single food.

The NYC mayor added that too much salt can lead to a cohort of health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. He described the city’s Board of Health’s plan as a “common sense regulation.”

But the National Restaurant Association is the most prominent opponent of the regulation. The group managed to stop the new rules from being enforced in February by asking a full hearing by the end of the year.

The new rules only target chains with more than 15 restaurants across the U.S. According to the new rules, any food or meal that contains more than 2,300 mg of sodium should bear a saltshaker sign. If restaurants fail to comply they will be fined $200 for each violation.

In court, restaurants argued that the city’s board first needed to get an approval from the City Council. The latest decision only refers to whether the new rules should be enforced immediately or not.

The National Restaurant Association recently expressed its hopes that the city would postpone implementation “voluntarily” until the issue is debated in a hearing and the group’s appeal reaches a conclusion.

New York City is renown for its rules striving to make New Yorkers healthier. Several years ago, mayor Bloomberg tried to ban sweetened beverages larger than 16 oz from sale but courts said no.

Justice Eileen Rakower who initially approved sodium warning labels argued that the new rules are different from soda regulation because they put no restrain on salt consumption.

She added that the panel which issued the new rules did not act outside its authority since the labels are critical to prevent future public health issues. Authorities noted that several restaurant chains agreed to place the labels on their menus, although the legal battle is far from over.

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