National Restaurant Association To Sue NYC for Sodium Warnings

Statement of CSPI President Michael F. Jacobson

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You have to ask yourself: whom does the National Restaurant Association really represent?

The association has announced it will sue to stop the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and New York Board of Health from requiring chain restaurants to inform their customers when a single menu item has a teaspoon or more of salt—a day’s worth.

Is it actually representing restaurants? Well, the local Applebee’s restaurants in New York City have already put the information on their menu. That chain doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Panera Bread reduced sodium in various items in New York City and intends to take those reductions nationwide.

The need for this information is clear. The African-American and Hispanic communities of New York City suffer disproportionately from the preventable heart diseases and strokes associated with excess sodium in the diet. Americans, on average, are consuming a teaspoon and a half of salt a day–sodium that the restaurant and packaged food industries add to food before a consumer has any choice.

An NRA spokesperson said: “We believe consumers should have the same access to nutritional information from Portland, ME to Portland, OR. Local mandates like the one the board of health put forth unravel that uniformity.”

Well, then, NRA, join the Center for Science in the Public Interest in calling for all local health departments to provide this critical, heart-healthy information to their citizens.

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