NYC Salt Labeling Rule Becomes Enforceable Starting June 6

NYC Salt Labeling Rule Becomes Enforceable Starting June 6
General Health

Chain restaurants in New York City which fail to put symbols on their menus beside dishes containing excessive amounts of salt can be fined $200, and those that repeatedly fail to comply with the mandate could lose their permits.

Source: The New York Times

The controversial symbol – a salt shaker inside of a triangle – is meant to warn customers that a menu item contains more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, or about a teaspoon of salt. Hundreds of chain restaurants across the city must include the warnings on their menus. Some chains, including Subway and Applebees, and T.G.I. Friday’s, have voluntarily started including the menu icon.

But other chains have been fighting the rule. The National Restaurant Association, a trade group, said it would move forward with a court challenge to the mandate, which was approved by the Board of Health last year. The salt labeling rule went into effect in December, but a court ruling blocked the city from enforcing it. On May 26, The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court lifted the enforcement ban.

Read: Industry Group Files Files Suit Over NYC Salt Warnings

The National Restaurant Association says the rule is arbitrary and causes confusion for consumers, and argues that the costs of implementing the rule would be burdensome to restaurant owners, particularly franchisees who may operate just 1 or 2 outlets.

Christin Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the group, told Reuters that the court’s decision means restaurants will be forced to comply with what she called “an unlawful and unprecedented” rule – one that is believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S.

Restaurants with more than 15 locations nationwide, some theater chains, and some vendors in in sports stadiums must comply with the labeling rules. About 3,000 chain restaurants in New York City are affected by the rule, according to the health department. The icon will appear on menu and menu boards. If a restaurant does not sell a menu item that exceeds the sodium limit, it doesn’t have to display the image. [1]


Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the city’s health commissioner, said:

“Today is really a victory for heart health in New York City. This is really important to the health of New Yorkers because high sodium intake is an important risk factor for heart disease, for stroke, because it contributes to high blood pressure.” [2]

Mayor Bill de Blasio said he was happy with the court’s ruling and called the labeling rule “common sense regulation.” He added:

“New Yorkers deserve to know a whole day’s worth of sodium could be in one menu item, and too much sodium could lead to detrimental health problems.”

City government has always been very focused on pointing people in the right direction, health-wise. In 2003, the city banned smoking in bars and restaurants that had not been affected by previous no-smoking laws. In 2006, the city voted to ban trans fats in restaurants, and amended the health code to require chains to post calorie counts.

Then, in 2012, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban on selling sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, but the city’s highest court struck down the proposal.

The city will begin enforcing the rule beginning June 6.


[1] The New York Times

[2] Politico