The Big Apple wants to take a bite out of sodium consumption, but not everyone is giving the idea rave reviews.
Chain restaurants in New York City are now required to put a salt shaker emblem (right) on menus that offer dishes containing more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium. That amount (about a teaspoon) is considered by many to be the recommended daily amount of salt.
Some individuals and organizations applaud the policy, as many health professionals say Americans generally consume too much salt and that it's something that can lead to high blood pressure and heart problems. However, New York resident Jeff Stier, a senior fellow for the National Center for Public Policy Research, says this isn't based on sound science.
"There's no scientific evidence that [labels] change behavior," he states bluntly. "The best thing we have to go on right now, short of a study on salt-warning labels, is the federally instituted mandatory calorie count and the New York City version of that, which came first. The New York Times reported [on Monday] that the calorie counts on menu boards aren't having the intended effect of getting people to consume fewer calories."
Salt producers also say the city's policy is misguided.
Meanwhile, restaurant owners and industry groups are upset with the fact that only chain restaurants are required to comply. Stier believes the issue will wind up in court.
"... Higher-end restaurants ... are currently exempt," he points out. "It's harder to enforce at the more expensive restaurants; and of course, imagine going into a higher-end restaurant and having your table littered with warning labels. So right now they're exempt, but there's no doubt they want to take this further."
Whatever the case, chain restaurants have until March to update their menus. Thereafter, violators will be fined $200.