By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Salt poured onto a table

A New York appellate judge has temporarily stopped New York City from enforcing a new rule requiring chain restaurants from posting warnings about menu items high in sodium.

Judge David Freedman’s injunction was an eleventh-hour victory for the National Restaurant Association, a trade group that sued the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York Board of Health over the sodium warnings.

The law requires restaurants with at least 15 locations around the country to place a saltshaker encased in a black triangle next to menu items that have more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium or about a teaspoon of salt.

It also requires a statement that says consuming large amounts of sodium can increase blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Restaurants that did not comply with the law by Tuesday faced fines. The association requested a stay after a New York Supreme Court judge ruled last Wednesday the health department could enforce its rule.

Restaurant association spokeswoman Christin Fernandez said in a statement that the latest decision offers “relief for the men and women that own and operate New York’s restaurants from this unlawful and unprecedented sodium mandate

Jeremy House, the deputy press secretary for the health department, said by email that officials are confident the appeal outcome will be in favor of the label.

“The sodium warning remains critical information New Yorkers need to protect their hearts and their health,” he said.

The information empowers people to make better choices, agreed Lawrence J. Appel, MD, MPH, a spokesperson for the AHA, and the director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research.

“This sodium warning label identifies extreme levels of sodium on restaurant menus,” he said in a statement.

A panel of judges from the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a hearing March 18, a courts spokesman said. Until then, New York can only issue warnings to restaurants that haven’t included the label on their menus.