The New York City law mandating that restaurants report high salt levels on menus is forcing those of us who eat out to avoid unpleasant nutritional truths to confront some ugly realities. And this week that law got a big boost.
Yesterday, a New York judge upheld the sodium regulation, originally passed in December 2015, that had been challenged by the National Restaurant Association. The law requires restaurant chains to put a salt shaker on the menu next to items containing high amounts of sodium – anything that exceeds 2,300 milligrams. Dishes are as wide ranging as Chipotle's loaded chicken burrito to Applebee's grilled shrimp and spinach salad.
"Information is power," Justice Eileen Rakower of New York state Supreme Court in Manhattan said while delivering her decision. The National Restaurant Association had filed a lawsuit against the city after the regulation had originally passed, saying it placed an arbitrary and unfair burden on restaurant owners. The NRA tried to build a correlation to the infamous NYC large soda ban, but the judge pointed out it’s not the same thing. No one is banning these salt-laden dishes, just providing enough information for customers to know what they are buying.
The law applies to restaurant chains with more than 15 restaurants, as well as concession stands at some movie theaters and arenas. And those locations will have to roll out menus with the new information beginning March 1. At that time, the city will begin to issue fines against any restaurants that don’t comply.
The hope, among the laws supporters, is that it can help lower rates of hypertension, heart attacks, and strokes by giving consumers the option to be more informed about what they are eating – a move that medical experts say was very needed. “There are a few conditions where controlling ones sodium intake is vital for good management,” says Marina Klimasiewfski, a New-York area nurse practitioner. “The best example is high blood pressure. The American Heart association recommends these patients limit their sodium. With many patients eating on the go it is almost impossible for patients to reliably track this information that helps them control this condition,” says Klimasiewfski.
If you still want to eat your sodium-packed loaded burritos, nothing is standing in your way – except now you can’t pretend you just didn’t know any better.