By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
A New York Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday allows New York City to continue to require certain chain restaurants to place high-sodium warning labels on select menu items, according to the city’s health department.
The city’s rule, which went into effect Dec. 1, requires restaurants with more than 15 locations nationwide to place an icon with the image of a saltshaker encased in a black triangle next to food items that contain more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, or about 1 teaspoon of salt.
In a statement Wednesday, the New York City Health Commissioner said the court’s ruling “is a win for the health of every New York City resident.”
“New Yorkers will now have the information necessary to make informed and better decisions about their diets and their health,” Dr. Mary T. Bassett said in the statement.
Judge Eileen A. Rakower’s decision dealt a blow to the National Restaurant Association, which sued the city to block the measure.
A spokeswoman for the restaurant-trade group, which claims it is the largest membership-based food-service organization in the world, said by statement that “we will be exploring all of our legal options moving forward.”
Christin Fernandez said in an email that the restaurant association had “advocated for a national federal menu labeling standard to provide consumers with uniform nutritional information when dining out.”
New York City’s health department’s rule, she added, was “unnecessary” and arbitrary because under federal guidelines, nutritional information is available upon request.
The American Heart Association recommends Americans should not consume more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily. American’s sodium intake is about 3,400 milligrams a day — more than twice the amount recommended by the AHA to maintain good heart health and help reduce blood pressure.
“This sodium warning label identifies extreme levels of sodium on restaurant menus. Information like this will empower people to make choices that are better for their health. The science is clear: lowering sodium intake lowers blood pressure in adults and children. Lower blood pressure means better heart health for Americans,” said Lawrence J. Appel, M.D., a spokesperson for the AHA and the director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research.
The warning-label law passed unanimously in September by the New York City Board of Health, and also requires those restaurants to post a high-sodium warning statement in areas where customers place their orders.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene created the rule.
According to New York City’s health department, Applebee’s, Subway, TGI Friday’s and Regal Entertainment Group movie theaters have started to implement the regulation.
Patrick Lenow, a spokesman with DineEquity, Inc., the parent company of Applebee’s Grill & Bar, said the company has adopted the Big Apple’s rule because complying “with laws is important and true to our values.”
DineEquity, he added, has had a “long-standing policy” of offering customers a variety of meal choices and information about its dishes “so they can decide what’s best for them.”
The restaurant chains affected by the law all have until March 1 to comply with the regulation before they are subject to fines.