Salt Warnings on Menus Enforceable in New York City, Court Says

William Neuman reported in today’s New York Times that, “Salt must soon be on the menu — very visibly — at hundreds more chain restaurants in New York City, after a court on Thursday cleared the way for the city to enforce a rule requiring many eateries to alert consumers to food items with high salt content.

“Some chains, such as Applebee’s, T.G.I. Friday’s and Subway, have voluntarily started including the menu icon — a saltshaker in a triangle — with an explanation that items that bear the symbol contain more than 2,300 milligrams, or about a teaspoon, of salt, the daily limit recommended by many nutritionists.

“But other chains have held back, and the National Restaurant Association, a trade group, said it would continue a court challenge to the rule, which was approved by the Board of Health last year. The rule went into effect in December, but a court ruling blocked the city from enforcing it. The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court lifted the enforcement ban.”

The Times article pointed out that, “The labeling rule applies to restaurants with at least 15 stores nationwide, as well as to some theater chains and some vendors in sports stadiums. The health department said that about 3,000 chain restaurants in the city would be affected by the rule. The symbol will appear on menus and menu boards, although some restaurants might not sell items that exceed the limit and therefore will not display the symbol.

“The restaurant industry said the costs of implementing the rule would be a burden to restaurant owners, including franchisees who may operate just one or two outlets. An industry official also worried about how customers might interpret the saltshaker symbol.”

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