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New York City to Propose High-Sodium Labels on Chain Menus

New York City to Propose High-Sodium Labels on Chain Menus


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Menu items exceeding the recommended daily salt limit would have to be identified as such

An estimated 75 percent of Americans’ salt intake comes from processed and restaurant foods.

On Wednesday, June 10, the New York City Health Department will propose the addition of a high-sodium warning label for chain restaurants.

If approved, New York would become the first U.S. city to adopt such a law.

The proposal would require all chain restaurants in the city to add a salt shaker symbol next to menu items that contain sodium in excess of the daily recommended limit of the 2,300 milligrams of salt, approximately equal to one teaspoon.

Processed foods and restaurant meals, more than meals cooked in the home, are considered the major sources of dietary salt.

Excess sodium intake has been linked to a number of health concerns, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

An estimated 70 percent of adults in the United States are at risk of developing health problems associated with salt consumption, particularly African Americans, diabetics, those with high or elevated blood pressure, and those over the age of 50.


Salt Labels Could Appear Next To Menu Items In NYC’s Chain Restaurants As Soon As December

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Salt Labels Could Appear Next To Menu Items In NYC’s Chain Restaurants As Soon As December

If Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal does end up going through, it would make NYC the first city to have such a requirement regarding salt. The measure was the hot ticket at a public hearing yesterday at NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Queens, reports the Wall Street Journal, ahead of a Board of Health vote on the proposal slated for September.

Restaurant groups are not pleased with the idea, calling the proposal overly burdensome, as it would require businesses to overhaul their menus. This, after many restaurants had to redo their menus to add calorie counts recently in the city. New federal menu-labeling standards will also go into effect in 2016, meaning some restaurants would have to redo their printed menus again.

“I think the idea that here we go again, with special boards and menus in New York City, is very frustrating,” Melissa Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association told the WSJ.

There’s also some confusion over whether the icon would be required on items that usually feed more than one person, like a pizza. An entire pie would require the salt label, for example, but a single slice might not.

On the other hand, health advocates applauded the proposal, though some said it doesn’t go far enough.

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, called it a “groundbreaking public-health initiative.” But, he said, “it’s an extraordinarily conservative approach.”

A spokeswoman for the mayor defended the measure, saying that the warning label is part of de Blasio’s strategy to lower the city’s premature mortality rate by 25% by 2040.

“Excess sodium intake is dangerous and linked to increased blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke,” she said. “With this warning label, we can increase awareness about the risks.”

If the Board of Health approves the measure, the new rule could go into effect as soon as Dec. 1, though penalties wouldn’t be imposed for the first six months.

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New York City to require high-salt label at chain restaurants in national first

Salty fare from sandwiches to salads will soon come with a first-of-its-kind warning label at chain restaurants in New York City.

The city Board of Health voted unanimously Wednesday to require chain eateries to put salt-shaker symbols on menus to denote dishes with more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300mg of sodium. That’s about a teaspoon.

New York is the first US city with such a requirement, which comes as officials and experts urge Americans to eat healthier. It furthers a series of novel nutritional efforts in the nation’s biggest city.

City officials say they’re just saying “know”, not “no”, about foods high in a substance that experts say is too prevalent in most Americans’ diets, raising the risk of high blood pressure and potentially heart attacks and strokes. Public health advocates applaud the proposal, but salt producers and restaurateurs call it a misguided step toward an onslaught of confusing warnings.

The average American consumes about 3,400mg of salt each day. Only about one in 10 Americans meets the 1 teaspoon guideline.

The vast majority of dietary salt comes from processed and restaurant food, studies show. Consumers may not realize how much sodium is in, say, a Panera Bread Smokehouse Turkey Panini (2,590mg), TGI Friday’s sesame jack chicken strips (2,700mg), a regular-size Applebee’s Grilled Shrimp ‘n Spinach Salad (2,990mg) or a Subway footlong spicy Italian sub (2,980mg).

“There are few other areas in which public health could do more to save lives,” Michael Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, said at a city Health Department hearing in July. Indeed, some health experts have urged the city to set the warning limit as low as 500mg.

But the Salt Institute, a trade association for salt producers, has said the proposal is based on “incorrect government targets” called into question by recent research. Last year, an international study involving 100,000 people suggested that most people’s salt consumption was actually OK for heart health, adding that both way too much and too little salt can do harm. Other scientists fault the study and say most people still consume way too much salt.

Restaurant owners say healthy-eating initiatives should focus on diet as a whole, not on particular ingredients or foods. They want the city to leave salt warnings to federal authorities. The US Food and Drug Administration is working on new sodium guidelines.

“The concern, at some point, is that warning labels and the confluence of warnings on menus will lead to a collective shrug by consumers . as every item on a menu will be flagged as inappropriate in one way or another,” James Versocki, a lawyer for the New York State Restaurant Association’s New York City chapter, said at the July hearing.

Still, at least one eatery chain – Panera Bread – has expressed support for the city’s proposal. It will take effect 1 December.

In recent years, New York City has pioneered banning trans fats from restaurant meals and forcing chain eateries to post calorie counts on menus. It led development of voluntary salt-reduction targets for various table staples and tried, unsuccessfully, to limit the size of some sugary drinks. Restaurant representatives criticizing the salt proposal have noted that courts struck down the big-soda ban as overreaching by the health board.


NYC Board Of Health Approves First-Of-Its-Kind Sodium Warnings On Menus

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Big changes are coming to chain restaurants across New York City.

The city Board of Health voted unanimously Wednesday to require chain eateries to put salt-shaker symbols on menus to denote dishes with more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium. That’s about a teaspoon.

The new rule is set to take effect Dec. 1.

This is what the mandatory label would look like if board votes "yes" pic.twitter.com/wgOOWZTskx

&mdash ilana gold (@ilanagoldTV) September 9, 2015

New York is now the first city in the nation with such a requirement, which comes as officials and experts urge Americans to eat healthier.

“This really represents, to me, the next step in allowing usable information for our community to make better health decisions,” said board member Dr. Deepthiman K. Gowda. “My hope is that this impacts not only consumer practices but also impacts the practices of our restaurants.”

City officials argue they’re just saying “know,” not “no,” about foods high in a substance that experts say is too prevalent in most Americans’ diets, raising the risk of high blood pressure and potentially heart attacks and strokes.

Health Board member Dr. Deepthiman Gowda said he hopes the mandate will not only help consumers make healthier choices, but also spur a change in recipes, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.

“Not only impacts consumer practices, but also impacts the practices of our restaurants,” Dr. Gowda said.

Public health advocates applaud the proposal, but salt producers and restaurateurs call it a misguided step toward an onslaught of confusing warnings.

&ldquoThis is another example of the government creating policy based on outdated, incorrect sodium guidelines that have been refuted by 10 years of research,” Lori Roman, President of the Salt Institute, said in a statement Wednesday before the vote. “Research shows Americans already eat within the safe range of sodium consumption and population-wide sodium reduction strategies are unnecessary and could be harmful.&rdquo

The measure will apply to an estimated 10 percent of menu items at the New York City outlets of chains with at least 15 outlets nationwide, city Health Department Deputy Commissioner Sonya Angell said. Those chains account for about 1/3 of the restaurant traffic in the city, she said.

“We know the public wants information to make healthier decisions about the food they eat and that they currently can’t get this information,” said Dr. Mary Bassett, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health.

The average American consumes about 3,400 mg of salt each day. Only about one in 10 Americans meet the 1 teaspoon guideline.

The vast majority of dietary salt comes from processed and restaurant food, studies show. Consumers may not realize how much sodium is in, say, a Panera Bread Smokehouse Turkey Panini (2,590 mg), TGI Friday’s sesame jack chicken strips (2,700 mg), a regular-size Applebee’s Grilled Shrimp ‘n Spinach Salad (2,990 mg) or a Subway foot-long spicy Italian sub (2,980 mg).

&ldquoSo many times, the one meal will supersede that daily limit of how much sodium or salt we should have in our diet,&rdquo said Dr. Daniel Yadegar of Weill Cornell Medical College & NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. &ldquoStudies have shown that most people, nine out of 10, exceed that and the average intake is over 3,000 milligrams on a daily basis.&rdquo

Last year, an international study involving 100,000 people suggested that most folks’ salt consumption was actually OK for heart health, adding that both way too much and too little salt can do harm. Other scientists fault the study and say most people still consume way too much salt.

New York State Restaurant Association President Melissa Fleischut called the vote “disappointing” and said “establishments that fall under these new regulations will be forced to construct costly new menu boards in consecutive years.”

“This is just the latest in a long litany of superfluous hoops that restaurants here in New York must jump through,” Fleischut said. “Every one of these cumbersome new laws makes it tougher and tougher for restaurants to find success.”

Still, at least one eatery chain, Panera Bread, has expressed support for the menu change.

Many New Yorkers were split on the idea.

“Now, when I go shopping I look at contents of sodium so I think it’s important,” Chelsea resident Al Durrell told CBS2’s Ilana Gold. “I think it’s helpful.”

“I think its going to be the same thing when they put the calories up,” said New Jersey resident Erin Cunningham. “It’s going to make people more angry than anything.”

&ldquoI think it&rsquos pointless,&rdquo one man said. &ldquoI don&rsquot see why. You know what has a lot of salt and what doesn&rsquot.&rdquo

&ldquoI get what I want, eat what I want,&rdquo another man said.

&ldquoI think it&rsquos good to be informed of salt content and other content as well,&rdquo said another.

Ed Nelson told 1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr pictures of salt shakers aren’t going to stop him from ordering what he wants.

“I don’t care if it has five salt shakers on it, I’m eating it if I want it,” he said.

But Nelson added he does think it’s important to know what’s in your food.

“I do believe everybody needs to know because we’re not living as long as we’d like to these day because our bodies are unhealthy, we do a lot of unhealthy things,” he said.

&ldquoActually, I think it is a good idea because I have high blood pressure and I need to look for that hidden salt that is in food,&rdquo said one man.

In recent years, New York City has pioneered banning trans fats from restaurant meals and forcing chain eateries to post calorie counts on menus.

It led development of voluntary salt-reduction targets for various table staples and tried, unsuccessfully, to limit the size of some sugary drinks.

Restaurant representatives criticizing the salt proposal have noted that courts struck down the big-soda ban as overreaching by the health board.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


High-Salt Warnings on New York Menus to Start Tuesday

Starting Tuesday, diners at many chain restaurants in New York City will see warnings on menus next to items that are high in sodium, under a rule believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

The symbol of a saltshaker in a black triangle will warn customers about items that contain more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the recommended daily maximum. The city estimated that 10 percent of menu items will need the warning.

The rule is part of a measure, approved in September, that also requires the restaurants to post a clearly visible statement warning customers that high sodium intake can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke.

It applies only to restaurants with 15 or more locations across the country, as well as concession stands at some movie theaters and ballparks, and violators will face a penalty of $200.

The measure represents the first high-profile public health policy pushed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. His predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, targeted soda, trans fats and smoking, and he required restaurants to post calorie counts on their menus.

Americans are far exceeding their daily recommended sodium intake, and chain restaurants are a large factor, health experts say, with the average person consuming about 3,300 milligrams a day.

Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the city’s health commissioner, said in September that she hoped other cities would adopt similar rules in an effort to combat heart disease, which she noted is “the leading cause of death in the United States and in our city.”

Critics have said the rules place a burden on small businesses, and the National Restaurant Association said it was planning to file a lawsuit, according to Politico. The rules go “too far, too fast for New York’s restaurant community,” said Christin Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the group.


New York City mulls high-sodium warnings on menus

The New York City Health Department said it will consider requiring chain restaurants to alert customers to menu items that are high in salt. The proposed warning would apply to restaurants with more than 15 locations nationwide.

It would show a salt shaker next to any menu item with more than the U.S. daily recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium -- about a teaspoon of salt -- with a message stating: "High sodium intake can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke."

Proposed warning label that would accompany high-sodium meals CBS News

The Health Department estimates about ten percent of dishes would warrant a salt shaker. Examples include: Burger King's Ultimate Breakfast Platter with 3,020 milligrams of sodium Quiznos' large Mesquite Chicken Sub with 3,260 milligrams and Chili's large Beef Nachos with over 4,000 milligrams.

"A lot of people think that the way to cut the salt in their diet is to take the salt shaker off the table but we know that most of the salt in our diet comes in the form of processed or prepared food," said New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Bassett.

Pass the salt

The largest saltworks in Greece is located at a protected wetland complex of estuaries and lagoons

Ninety percent of Americans eat more than the recommended limit. A quarter of the salt in our diet is from restaurant food, where it's hard to know the exact salt content. Dr. Bassett says there are some places where a turkey sandwich's sodium content can fluctuate from 900 milligrams to 3,000 milligrams.

On average, adults consume about 50 percent more salt than the federal guidelines suggest. Unlike the ban on transfats, the current proposal would just create a warning label -- purely informational -- and leave the decision about whether to splurge on salt to the customer.

Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for CBS News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook


NYC Health Department considers requiring chain restaurants to label high sodium meals on menu

The city wants New Yorkers to shake their salt habit.

The Health Department is considering requiring chain restaurants to label high-sodium dishes as a warning to diners that they're getting more than their recommended limit in just one meal.

The proposed labels will look like mini salt shakers, and appear on the menu next to the unhealthy dish, officials said.

The Board of Health will vote Wednesday whether to consider changing the city's health code to allow the measure.

If it passes, there will be a public review comment, followed by another vote in September.

The changes would go into effect in December.

"This doesn't change the food. It enables people to identify single items that have a level of salt that is extremely high," Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, told the Associated Press, which first reported the plans.

"So that they can modify their menu selections accordingly."

The rules would only apply to chain restaurants, which the city defines as ones with 15 or more locations nationally.

Any dish with more than 2,300 mg of sodium the federal recommended daily limit would require the label, officials said.

City officials says it's necessary because studies show the majority of sodium comes from processed and restaurant food.

"Excess sodium intake is dangerous and linked to increased blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke. The sodium warning label is part of this administration's comprehensive strategy to lower the City's premature mortality rate by 25% by 2040 and decrease disparities among racial and ethnic groups. With this warning label, we can increase awareness about the risks of high sodium intake in an effort to reduce chronic diseases in New York City," said Mayor de Blasio.


Salt shocker! NYC eyes high-sodium menu warnings

Did you know that many sandwiches and menu items – on their own – contain more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, or about a teaspoon, which is the daily recommended amount?

Consider these sodium-laden taste treats:

• Panera Bread's Italian combo sandwich — seared steak, smoked turkey, ham, salami and onions — has 2,830 mg of sodium.

• At Subway, a foot-long spicy Italian sub has 2,980 mg of sodium.

• Kentucky Fried Chicken's famous bowl has 2,450 mg of sodium, while a family-sized tray of popcorn nuggets contains 4,670 mg of sodium.

• And at TGI Fridays, the sesame jack chicken strips contain 2,700 mg of sodium, while the rack of baby back ribs contains 3,010 mg of sodium.

No wonder, then, that many Americans face blood-pressure issues that can lead to heart disease and other health problems.

Now New York City, which has a history of introducing measures to improve the nutrition of its residents and visitors, is poised to take a further step by highlighting the large amounts of sodium in many restaurant meals.

The city's health department on Wednesday proposed at a meeting of the Board of Health that all chain restaurants add a salt-shaker symbol on menus next to products that contain more than the recommended daily limit.

If the city Board of Health votes to consider the proposal, a final vote could come as soon as September and the warnings by December.

The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day only about one in 10 Americans meets the 1 teaspoon guideline.

New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett is pushing for symbols on chain restaurant menus alerting consumers to high-sodium items. (Photo: Craig Barritt, Getty Images)

The city wants to help fight cardiovascular disease and make it easier for customers to make healthier choices, New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said.

"We have the overall goal at the health department that we want to reduce premature mortality," she told USA TODAY on Tuesday.

Consuming too much sodium raises blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

New York will be the first city to suggest a sodium warning. Already, restaurants in the city are required to list the calorie content of food items on their menus, a rule since 2008. The city's earlier initiative has paved a path nationwide – under new federal regulations that are set to go into effect later this year, all chain restaurants will be required to update menu boards to show calorie counts and other nutritional information.

If passed, the proposal would affect eateries with 15 establishments or more, along with some movie theaters and concession stands.

The proposal has been met with resistance by some food providers.

"Restaurants in New York City are already heavily regulated at every level," Melissa Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association, toldThe New York Times. "The composition of menus may soon have more warning labels than food products."

Meanwhile, the head of the Salt Institute, a trade association, called the proposal "misguided" and based on "faulty, incorrect government targets" discredited by recent research.

"They're too low … and if followed, could actually harm people," the group's president, Lori Roman, told The Associated Press.

Bassett, however, said the effects of the proposal would be limited and served only to make unhealthier choices more obvious, with the symbol necessary for about 10% of menu items.

And nutrition experts hailed the move and said it may not go far enough.

"High sodium levels are probably the biggest health problem related to our food supply," Michael Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told the AP.

Jacobson said that the plan was too conservative, given that items would get special labels only if they have a full day's worth of sodium. A meal with even half that amount would still have too much salt, he said.

Bassett said comparisons shouldn't be drawn to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's failed proposal to ban sales of sweetened bottled drinks and fountain beverages larger than 16 ounces. It's not about limiting options, but informing consumers, she said.

"It's a common misconception that the way food gets salty is by shaking the salt shaker," she said. "In fact, most of the salt in our diet comes from prepared and processed foods. This is about giving people information that will enable them to make a choice."


New York to Require Salt Warnings San Francisco to Ban Soda Ads

Two major U.S. cities are taking action to help people eat healthier food. New York city officials are poised to require a warning label on high-sodium menu items at chain restaurants, while San Francisco moved to ban ads for ads for sugary sodas on public property.

Cities are getting bolder about such measures, aimed at helping people figure out how to avoid the unhealthiest foods.

New York's Health Department will propose Wednesday that all chain restaurants add a symbol resembling a salt shaker on menus next to food products that contain more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium, equal to about 1 teaspoon of salt, the Associated Press reported.

Sodium can raise blood pressure, which can lead to heart attack and stroke. Studies have found that the vast majority of dietary salt comes from processed and restaurant foods. Average sodium consumption is about 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. Only about one in 10 Americans meets the 1 teaspoon guideline.

"This doesn't change the food. It enables people to identify single items that have a level of salt that is extremely high so that they can modify their menu selections accordingly,” said Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Michael Jacobson, executive director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group, called it "an extremely important proposal."

Marion Nestle, a food policy expert at New York University, said the proposal might encourage restaurants to help figure out ways to cut down on salt. "The big problem here is nobody wants to go first. Food companies don't want to start reducing their salt unless everybody else does," Nestle said. "That's why we need regulation in my view."

Also Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed legislation to require health warnings on ads for sugar-sweetened drinks and banning ads on publicly owned property. The measure also forbids the use of city funds to buy sodas.

"These health warnings will help provide people information they need to make informed decisions about what beverages they consume," city supervisor Scott Wiener said in a statement.

"Requiring health warnings on soda ads also makes clear that these drinks aren't harmless - indeed, quite the opposite - and that the puppies, unicorns, and rainbows depicted in soda ads aren't reality."


Saltshaker Warnings Get Their Day in Court

A restaurant menu on 46th Street in Manhattan with saltshaker symbols warning of high-sodium dishes.

Corinne Ramey

At restaurants around Times Square, saltshaker icons adorn menu descriptions of Hard Rock Cafe’s grilled-vegetable flatbread, Olive Garden’s chicken and shrimp carbonara and T.G.I. Friday’s French onion soup.

On Thursday, these saltshakers are expected to get their day in court.

The National Restaurant Association sued the city in December, arguing the Board of Health overstepped its authority and acted arbitrarily in requiring chain restaurants with at least 15 locations nationally to post high-sodium warnings on their menus. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

The Board of Health has said it acted within its authority and called the warning a significant step toward addressing a “public health crisis”—specifically cardiovascular disease, which it cites as the city’s leading cause of death.