New York City has implemented several laws regarding nutritional information in chain restaurants. Trans fats are currently banned from restaurant foods. Chain restaurants must display the calorie content of their menu items. Now there is talk of a proposal that would require chain restaurants to display a warning label on high-sodium menu items. New York would be the first city to post such a message.
This proposal by the Department of Health would require chain restaurants to add a saltshaker symbol next to foods that exceed the recommended amount of sodium per day. Daily sodium intake for the average adult should be less than 2,300 mg. This is about a teaspoon in total each day. It is recommended for people with high blood pressure and older adults that their daily intake is less than 1,500 mg. Almost all Americans consume more sodium than their bodies need. The estimated average intake of sodium is about 3,400 mg per day.
Public health advocates are in favor of the new proposal, viewing it as a stepping stone towards tackling a major health problem. The salt shaker symbol would also have a message stating: “High sodium intake can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke.” Over consumption of sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure; blood pressure greater than 120/80 is considered prehypertensive. Only about one in ten Americans meets the one teaspoon per day guideline.
Taking the salt shaker away is a step in the right direction, but most of the salt in our diet is from processed foods. Much of the salt comes from restaurant food, where it is difficult to know the salt content. Unlike the ban on trans fat, the new proposal would not change the salt content, but serve as a warning label for the consumer.
Since the NYC Health Department voted on this proposal, there is now a period for public comments. The vote could take place as early as September allowing the warnings to be posted by December.
For additional information, refer to this video from CBS about NYC’s proposal to help reduce salt intake. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-york-city-mulls-high-sodium-warnings-on-menus/