New York could become the first U.S. city to require warning labels on high-salt dishes at chain restaurants, leading campaigns to reduce salt consumption in new territory, health officials said on Tuesday. at the Associated Press.
The city’s health ministry will propose Wednesday that all restaurant chains add a salt shaker-type symbol on menus next to products that contain more than the recommended daily limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium, or about 1 teaspoon. salt.
Public health advocates hailed the proposal as a pioneering step to tackle a major problem.
Salt producers have called it out of base, and some restaurateurs have said it will needlessly bog down already overburdened restaurants with more bureaucracy. But the city’s health commissioner Dr Mary Travis Bassett said it would simply give customers important information.
âIt doesn’t change the food. It allows people to identify unique items that have extremely high salt levels,â she said.
If the city’s health board votes Wednesday to consider the proposal, a final vote could take place as early as September and the warnings by December.
Overconsumption of sodium increases the risk of
, which can lead to a heart attack and stroke. The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day; only about one in 10 Americans meet the 1 teaspoon guideline.
âHigh sodium levels are possibly the biggest health problem associated with our food supply,â said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group.
While he hailed the New York proposal as “showing real leadership”, he also called it a conservative approach, given that articles would only get special labels if they contained a full day of. sodium. A meal with even half that amount would still have too much salt, he said.
The head of the Salt Institute, a trade association for salt producers, called the proposal “misguided” and based on “flawed and incorrect government goals” discredited by recent research.
“They are too low (…) and if they are followed, they could actually harm people,” said group president Lori Roman.
Last year, a large international study questioned the conventional wisdom that most people should cut back on salt, suggesting that the amount most people eat is good for heart health. The study followed 100,000 people in 17 countries and found that very high salt levels were a problem, especially for people with high blood pressure, but too little salt can also be harmful.
Other scientists criticize the study and say most people are still consuming too much salt.
Federal law already requires restaurants to provide sodium content information upon request, and the proposed menu labels will wrap restaurants in the country’s largest city in more red tape, said Melissa Fleischut, president and chief of staff. the leadership of the New York State Restaurant Association.
âMenu composition may soon have more warning labels than food products,â she said.
But at least one restaurant chain has expressed support for the city plan. Panera Bread advocates providing nutritional information with menus, and New York’s proposal is “aligned with that same goal,” CEO Ron Shaich said in a statement. He said he hoped such initiatives would trigger national and sectoral labeling requirements.
âThese are necessary to create real change,â he said.
Studies have shown that the vast majority of dietary salt comes from processed foods and restaurants. The United States Food and Drug Administration has pressured the food industry to voluntarily reduce sodium and is working on new sodium guidelines.
Under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York led the development of salt reduction targets for various staple foods and encouraged companies to start committing to them on a voluntary basis, starting in 2010.
Many companies have said they were able to cut back on salt without customers complaining, but that wasn’t always the case. Two years after announcing in 2009 that it was reducing salt in half of its soups, the Campbell Soup Co. brought back higher sodium soups, citing concerns about the taste.
New York City took a groundbreaking series of healthy eating steps during Bloomberg’s tenure: banning trans fats from restaurant meals, forcing restaurant chains to put calorie counts on menus, and trying, without success, to limit the size of certain sugary drinks. While city officials and health experts applauded the initiatives, some critics viewed them as nannies.