NYC Can Require Restaurant Chains to Display Sodium Warning Icons, Judge Rules

New York City is first city to require sodium warnings on some restaurant menus.

ByABC News
February 24, 2016, 4:39 PM

— -- A little black and white salt shaker will start popping up on menus in New York City after a New York State Supreme Court judge upheld the city rule requiring chain restaurants to warn patrons if they're eating a meal with excessive amounts of sodium, according to a statement by the New York City Health Department.

The rule was passed unanimously last fall by the New York City Board of Health, but was challenged in court by a preliminary injunction requested by the National Restaurant Association.

The ruling means that starting next week restaurants with more than 15 locations will have to use the so-called "sneaky salt" icon on menu items that contain 2,300 milligrams or more of sodium, which is the daily recommended limit.

"If your meal has so much sodium that it merits a salt shaker on the menu, then -- for the sake of your health -- order something else,” said Mayor de Blasio today. “Too many New Yorkers are at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke due to high sodium intake, and this salt shaker will help New Yorkers make better decisions about their diet -- ultimately leading to a healthier and quite possibly a longer life."

The health department noted that the average New Yorker consumes 40 percent more than the recommended daily allowance.

The National Restaurant Association told ABC News they would appeal the decision, citing the need for a federal standard for menus.

"Today's decision by the court to uphold this arbitrary, onerous and costly mandate is a blow to small businesses owners -- the franchisees that own and operate New York's restaurants," an association spokeswoman told ABC News.

"The decision by the DoH to arbitrarily mandate warning labels for an essential nutrient, despite the fact that the information is available upon request under the federal guidelines is not only unnecessary, it undoes the very uniformity we worked for," the spokeswoman continued. "We will be exploring all of our legal options moving forward."