NYC rule rubbing salt into our wounds: Eateries

Logos of a salt shaker, meant to warn consumers of high sodium content in food, have started appearing on menus in many New York City eateries, a rule that took effect on Tuesday.
Logos of a salt shaker, meant to warn consumers of high sodium content in food, have started appearing on menus in many New York City eateries, a rule that took effect on Tuesday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • New York City (NYC) is facing an imminent challenge to a new rule requiring restaurants to post warnings on dishes with high amounts of salt, the latest battle in its campaign to improve public health on the US fast-food front.

The National Restaurant Association has said it will to sue to block the sodium rule, which went into effect on Tuesday.

The regulation places an "overly onerous and costly burden" on eateries already dealing with higher costs from Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan for a US$15 (S$21) minimum wage for fast-food workers, the group said.

It will file a legal challenge in New York state court this week, said spokesman Christin Fernandez. 

The rule is "the tipping point for the hard-working men and women that own and operate New York's restaurants", said the Washington- based association, which represents more than 500,000 restaurants across the United States.

The city became the first municipality to require chains to post high-sodium warnings when its Board of Health approved the rule in September.

It requires restaurants with at least 15 locations in the country - a group that accounts for about a third of the city's restaurant traffic - to post a warning statement advising that high sodium intake can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. It also makes them identify menu items with more than 2.3g of sodium - about a teaspoon's worth, and the recommended daily limit for adults - and label them with an icon of a salt shaker in a triangle.

Chains have 90 days to comply with the new rule, before US$200 fines are imposed from March 1.

The sodium law is the latest in a long line of public health measures designed to foster healthier behaviour, including a pioneering ban on smoking that has since been adopted across the world.

The city has already banned trans fats. It also requires menus to list calorie counts, though it lost in its bid to limit the size of sugary-drink servings.

New York law department spokesman Nick Paolucci said the city is "confident that the Board of Health has the authority to enact this rule", and will address specific claims after the suit's filing.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2015, with the headline 'NYC rule rubbing salt into our wounds: Eateries'. Print Edition | Subscribe