The legal battle over New York City’s rules requiring menu warning labels for foods with high levels of sodium has ended after the restaurant industry failed to appeal to the state’s highest court.
Because the National Restaurant Industry didn’t appeal Wednesday, New York diners will continue to see a graphic warning on some restaurant menus.
“This finally puts to rest more than a year of unnecessary debate that stood in the way of patrons of certain New York chain restaurants being informed of the high sodium content in their foods choices,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive of the American Heart Association, one of several health organizations backing the measure.
The National Restaurant Association had sued to halt the rule shortly after it passed in late 2015, and legal wrangling kept it from being enacted for months.
However, a state appeals court in February ruled in favor of the city, agreeing with a lower court that the Board of Health “did not exceed their authority” by adopting the rule. The court also rejected the industry group’s description of the warning as “arbitrary and capricious.”
After losing the appeal in February, the National Restaurant Association said it plans to explore “all of our legal options moving forward.”
The New York measure calls for restaurants with at least 15 locations nationwide to flag high-sodium items with a salt shaker icon. These restaurants are required to place the salt shaker icons next to any menu item with more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium. That’s roughly a teaspoon of salt and the daily limit suggested by the federal government.
Research has shown that excess sodium contributes to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. Americans on average eat nearly double the amount of daily recommended sodium.
About 3,300 chain restaurants are subject to the sodium rule, which the city began enforcing last June. Violators receive a $200 fine.
The sodium warning is among numerous health battles being waged in New York that have caught national attention. In 2006, the city voted to ban trans fats in restaurants. It also amended the health code to require chains to post calorie counts. In 2012, the city also proposed a ban on sugary drink sales larger than 16 ounces, but the state’s high court struck down the measure.
Source: American Heart Association