Salt labeling for NYC chain restaurants


#1

NYC health department now requires that chain restaurant to label food items that has more than 2300 mg of sodium (the max daily amount recommended by the government) with a salt-shaker symbol. The rule will go live on 12/1.

What do folks think?

I have some mixed feeling about this law. While it is good to point out excessive salt in food, there are other problem areas with dishes in chains, like calories, fat. the question is where the line should be drawn on the warnings.

The other thought is around the rule only applying to chains. Understood that if the rule is applied to all restaurants its a disproportional burden on independent restaurants and especially mom and pop restaurants, but there is plenty of salt in some non-chains as well.

Thoughts?


(For the Horde!) #2

Mixed feeling too. Overall, I don’t think it is a bad idea. I do hope they keep it at a high threshold and do not gradually lower the 2300 mg to 1800 mg and then to 1300 mg. It should be a real warning. If half of the menu is labeled with a salt shaker, then actually it will have no effect on the customers.


#3

I understand where you are coming from with the threshold reduction point.

wouldn’t though, gradually lowering the threshold would encourage chains to gradually add less salt to food, so to avoid the ‘half the menu has salt shaker’ problem?


#4

I don’t think limiting salt in foods is a good idea; there’s no one level that any two people need or will be safe at. The levels proposed by the gummint are associated with higher mortality rates the lower you go on them. I think it was the Institute of Medicine that raised the first official red flag about the dangers of salt restriction and one size fits all recommendations.


(Gary Soup) #5

David Chang’s Momofuku ramen served in Toronto had 2,858 mg of sodium when tested.

Does he get a pass?

http://goo.gl/Y8J8LU


#6

He certainly has a collection of restaurants now- although i am guessing they won’t qualify as chains.


(Gary Soup) #7

That’s my point. Should he be exempt because Momofuku is not a chain?


(Cindy Bradley) #8

If half the menu items clocked in at over 2300 mg of sodium, I’d find somewhere else to eat.


#9

IMO, everyone should get a pass. It’s actually rare for sodium content of foods to be a culprit when someone has a sodium sensitivity. That’s why sodium restriction is such a high risk intervention vs. diagnosing the cause.
I might, too, depending on serving size and how much of it is fully consumed vs. left on the plate or taken home for later. Intense over seasoning can be masking failure to do much else to develop flavor.

I have a perspective on this that’s not uber common, but I have days when I need more salt and I pour salt on food and I can see it piling up in ridiculous amounts but I can’t taste it. OTOH, when I am in a different zone, I taste things as ubearably salty. I’m at the extreme ends here, but our bodies do regulate taste receptor function to help us regulate the amount of salt we desire and will tolerate. Don’t need no bureaucrat for that.


#10

I favor this. Agreed that the warning level shouldn’t be allowed to creep too low. I’d actually love for non-chain restaurants to use less salt, too, but that’s a different issue.


#11

Unless the food is pre-made offsite at factories where the salt application is consistent, if the salt is added at the chain restaurant itself, e.g. fries, you can have a pretty wide range of salt intake. given the level of culinary training at chains is not exactly rigorous, the worker that day can happen to add more salt to a dish not marked with a salt shaker anyway.


#12

That’s certainly true. How is that handled in this regulation?


#13

here’s a thought -
has anyone tracked down the recommended salt max for various countries - i.e. “national health & diet dudes?”

last I looked at government recommendations in USA, UK and Canada, they were not even close.

if one adds in “recommendations” from other medical groups - Am Heart Assoc, AMA, etc the picture does not improve.


#14

I am all for more information for the consumer to make educated choices and although i am not watching my own sodium intake (I actually have consistently low blood pressure and crave salty stuff) i would think twice about ordering something with a whole day’s allotment of sodium.

I don’t think that non-chains would ever be able to comply unless the entire method of seasoning food in the kitchen was changed, AFAIK no one is using a measuring spoon to season that steak or salad dressing in the kitchen…


#15

What are the recommendations from other countries? Lower?


#16

last I heard, there was no “official” USA number. everyone’s on the ‘consume less’ but FDA/CDC/USDA/NIH deal only in ‘recommendations’
for example, NIH is 2300 mg for healthy people, half or less for specific conditions.
other ‘health concerned’ organizations have much different ideas (less, generally)

UK - 6 grams per day (adult), http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/goodfood/pages/salt.aspx

etc