A judge ruled that New York City could go ahead with its first-in-the-nation initiative requiring all restaurants with 15 or more national locations to place a salt-shaker icon on menus beside items that contain 2,300 milligrams of sodium or more, the recommended daily allowance. The regulation, which had been challenged in court by the National Restaurant Association, was given the green light on Wednesday.
“If your meal has so much sodium that it merits a salt shaker on the menu, then—for the sake of your health—order something else," Mayor Bill de Blasio said after the ruling.
The mayor, who was infamously once pictured eating a sodium-heavy sausage-and-moz pizza with a knife and fork, was the warning’s leading proponent. The Department of Health estimates that the warnings will apply to 10 percent of all menu items.
While the regulation technically went into effect in December, restaurants will be fined $600 for non-compliance starting next week. The responses initially varied: Applebee’s quickly complied while Panera and Subway pledged to comply. McDonald’s made a point of noting that none of its items exceed the limit.
That’s not to say the regulation is popular. Opponents quickly chalked the regulation up to a wasteful manifestation of the Nanny State akin to former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s failed efforts to ban large sodas in the city. But there are more reasons to take the regulation with a grain...of skepticism.