The Health Department launched the “Look Before You Eat” campaign, which reminds New Yorkers to look for the sodium warning icons on menus when dining in chain restaurants throughout New York City. The salt shaker icon – part of the City’s new mandated sodium warning rule for chain restaurants – must be posted next to menu items with 2,300 mg of sodium or more, the total daily recommended limit. The campaign will appear on television, in the subway, online, in daily newspapers, on bus shelters, and on the sides of buses throughout the city.
“You can’t tell how much sodium is in your food just by looking at it,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “New York City is the first city in the country to implement a sodium warning rule and give diners important information to protect their hearts when eating at chain restaurants. The goal is to help make the healthy choice the easy choice for all of us, and this icon does just that.”
The average New York City adult consumes nearly 40 percent more sodium than the daily recommended limit. High sodium intake can increase blood pressure and the risk of heart disease and stroke. Over 75 percent of the sodium consumed by Americans comes from packaged and restaurant foods, and even similar foods can contain highly variable amounts of sodium, making it difficult for individuals to lower their sodium intake.
The sodium warning icon must appear on chain restaurant menus and menu boards next to any menu item with 2,300 mg of sodium or more. There are approximately 3,300 chain restaurants subject to the rule in New York City. The rule affects all New York City chain restaurants with 15 or more locations nationwide.
A warning statement must also be posted where customers place their orders:
Warning: indicates that the sodium (salt) content of this item is higher than the total daily recommended limit (2,300 mg). High sodium intake can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke.
“Consumers should know the sodium content of food before they make decisions for themselves and their families. With its pioneering “Look Before You Eat” campaign, New York City is once again proving itself a leader when it comes to protecting the public and promoting healthy lifestyle decisions,” said Assembly Member Richard N. Gottfried of Manhattan, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee.
“We cannot understate the importance of consumer education in making smart food choices. DOHMH Commissioner Bassett has been such a valuable partner in our efforts to get Brooklyn to ‘cut the salt’ and ‘curb the sugar,’ and this public awareness campaign is key to advancing the positive outcomes we seek. New Yorkers deserve to know what they are fueling their body with and how it will impact their health. Please Facebook, Instagram, or tweet to ‘look before you eat,’” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.
For more information on the sodium warning rule, visit nyc.gov/health or call 311.