Beginning Tuesday, a small salt shaker symbol will be placed on menus in chain restaurants in New York City warning that certain meals are high in sodium. NYC is the first city in the U.S. to take the step in an effort to work against stroke and heart disease.
Any menu item that contains more than 2,300 milligrams or 0.08 oz of sodium have to display the symbol, which is a salt shaker inside of a black triangle. Those menu items have more than the daily limit many nutritionists recommend (about one teaspoon of salt). The American Heart Association says that number should be lower, at about 1,500 milligrams, according to Time.
The new measure, which was approved by the New York City Board of Health unanimously in September, applies to restaurants that have at least 15 establishments around the U.S. along with some concession stands at sports stadiums and movie theaters, Reuters reports.
“It’s not hard to get 2.3 g of sodium into your face,” the co-director of NYU Langone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, Dr. Howard Weintraub, said Monday.
The new labels will most likely shock many people who visit chains like Subway and Chipotle, which are considered “healthy.” Many customers may look at a foot-long spicy Italian sub (2,980 mg) from Subway, TGI Friday’s classic buffalo wings (3,030 mg) or Applebee’s grilled shrimp and spinach salad (2,990 mg) and think “eh, it’s not that bad.” They’re in for a wake-up call.
In New York City, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. According to the health department, the disease claimed 17,000 lives in 2013, Reuters reported. And there was a notable connection between high blood pressure and sodium intake, a serious factor for stroke and heart attacks, the health department said.
They are hoping these labels will help those with high blood pressure know which menu items to look out for. But, salt is definitely still hidden elsewhere.
“I think this is another important initiative along with the calorie labeling rule,” Rebecca Blake, senior director of clinical nutrition at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York, said. “But we must remember to provide the customers with adequate education on how to reduce sodium intake and where to find hidden salt in our diets–it certainly is not limited to fast food.”
Actually, a lot of the sodium Americans consume is incorporated into the meals we prepare. People don’t often have a good sense of how much salt they are consuming every day.
“With salt, [labeling] is particularly important because 75 percent of the salt we take in as Americans is essentially hidden,” CBS News medical contributor Holly Phillips said on CBS This Morning in September, CBS reported. “It’s in restaurant food, it’s in processed food that may not even taste salty. Only 10 percent of the salt we get comes from the salt shaker.”
I think this new requirement give the blissfully unaware something to think about when they eat out!