New York on Tuesday became the first US city to adopt salt warnings on restaurant menus for food containing more than the daily recommended limit, in a bid to fight heart disease.
The law applies to chains with more than 15 restaurants across the country, and requires a salt shaker icon next to items that contain 2.3 grams or more of sodium — about a teaspoon’s worth.
It also requires chains to post a warning statement advising that high sodium intake can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke — the two biggest killers in America.
Chains have 90 days to comply with the new rule, which was passed unanimously by the city health board in September, before $200 fines are imposed from March 1.
The sodium law is the latest in a long line of public health measures designed to foster healthier behavior, including a pioneering ban on smoking that has since been adopted across the world.
It comes as the US departments of agriculture and health and human service recommend that Americans reduce their daily sodium intake to less than 2.3 grams of sodium a day.
New York authorities say the average adult in the city consumes almost 40 percent more sodium than the recommended limit per day, with black and Hispanic New Yorkers most affected.
“Too few understand the link between high sodium intake and hypertension, heart disease, and stroke,” said Mary Bassett, city health commissioner.
“These icons will help New Yorkers make more informed choices when dining out,” she added.
Chains account for one-third of the restaurant clientele in New York, city authorities say.
Applebee’s is among those restaurants who have willingly adopted sodium warnings on menus in the city.