New York considers salt warning on menus

Salt shakers Image copyright Getty Images

New York City is considering introducing new rules requiring restaurants to warn customers of food with a high salt content.

Chain restaurants that serve dishes with more than the recommended daily amount of sodium, one teaspoon, would have to add a salt-shaker symbol next to the item.

New York is the first US city to consider such a move.

Restaurant owners said it would mean yet more red tape for the industry.

New York's Board of Health agreed to consider the plan on Wednesday, which means a final vote in September and possible introduction in December.

Roughly 10% of the menu items sold in fast-food establishments would be affected, according to New York's Health Department. It estimates about 12.5% of the city's restaurants are fast-food chains.

"The new rule will simultaneously educate consumers about the dangers of high sodium as well as identify food items with high sodium content," a statement said.

It is part of the Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to reduce premature mortality by 25% by 2040.

Eating too much salt is thought to increase the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption About 12.5% of New York's restaurants are fast-food chains

'True leadership'

"Federal law already mandates that restaurants provide sodium level information to consumers upon request and this proposal would only add to the mountain of red tape these establishments have to deal with," said Melissa Fleischut, president of the New York State Restaurant Association.

"The composition of menus may soon have more warning labels than food products," she added.

They are already required to detail calorie information.

But health campaigners welcomed the move.

"High sodium levels are probably the biggest health problem related to our food supply" said Michael Jacobson from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"New York is showing true leadership in doing what it can do to lower sodium levels in restaurants by highlighting to consumers the dishes that are the most outlandishly high in sodium," he added.

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