Nutrition in Healthcare: Salt Warning Requirements in New York City

According to the CDC, more than 75% of sodium consumed in our diet comes from restaurants, prepackaged and processed foods (1). Salt is added to many of our food products because it enhances flavor, preserves freshness, and improves texture. Manufacturers specifically add salt to products because it can balance and boost the flavor of sugar in their products as well as increase shelf life. The Upper Intake Level of sodium recommended by the FDA is 2,300mg per day, while most Americans ages two and older are consuming 3,400mg daily (2). The surplus of sodium we consume on a daily basis is not ideal for our bodies. Consuming too much sodium can lead to an increased blood pressure, which eventually can increase risk of heart attack, stroke and more cardiovascular diseases (1).

    In an effort to prevent sodium overconsumption, New York City health officials are now requiring chain restaurants to add warnings to their menu items that more salt that the daily recommended amount (3). Starting December 1st, 2015, eateries must place a “salt-shaker” symbol on menu items that exceed 2,300mg of sodium (3). The idea behind this effort relates to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to improve overall health of New York City residents and reduce premature mortality (3). Many Americans are unaware of the effects salt has on their bodies as well as how much salt they actually eat in a day. This rule will help to educate New Yorkers on their salt intake and hopefully push restaurants to use less sodium in their recipes.

    The salt shaker rule will apply to chain restaurants that have over fifteen locations across the United States such as: McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC (3). The restaurant industry has voiced that the warning requirements will hurt their business and that the regulations are unnecessary. While the new requirements may hurt business, they may improve the city’s knowledge of sodium intake and reduce many prevalent health concerns. The effort proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio could be a trigger to other cities and states looking to impose similar rules on the restaurant industry. Affected restaurants may experience loss in business as result of salt warning requirements, yet Americans will be able to benefit from seeing that the item itself contains more sodium than they should be eating daily.

Sources:

(1) Get the Facts: The Role of Sodium in Your Food

(2) Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 2010

(3) New York City to Require Chain Restaurants to Label High-Sodium Food