NYC Begins to Enforce Salt Label Law
A new law that requires chain restaurants to post salt amounts on menus and to highlight “really salty foods,” was passed in December of 2015 but as of yet has not been fully enforced. Some restaurants have already implemented changes on their menus, by putting a salt shaker icon next to foods that contain close to or more than a day’s recommended amount of sodium.
Just how much sodium are you eating?
The average American consumes about 3400 milligrams of sodium daily. Current recommendations suggest first targeting 2300 milligrams of sodium daily and then trying to further reduce your intake to 1500 milligrams of sodium daily. If you eat out a fair amount or buy loads of processed foods then your daily sodium tally is likely close to the average or higher. A cheddar bacon burger can clock in at 4300 milligrams of sodium. A chicken salad that contains Buffalo wings and creamy dressing can average well over 3000 milligrams of sodium. If you eat frozen dinners, pizza, deli meats, canned soups then you are likely eating dangerous amounts of sodium. If these are the foods you serve your family then your children are also being exposed to dangerously high levels of sodium as well.
Only chain restaurants have the sodium posting mandate
The current law in New York City requires chain restaurants (have fifteen locations or more) to identify the high sodium foods on the menus. That means that if you favor eating at restaurants that have one or two locations, you will likely still be “in the dark” when it comes to sodium levels. Cooking at home allows you to control ingredients and sodium levels are typically lower in home-cooked meals.
Foods notoriously high in salt
Some of the foods on the notorious salt list may surprise you. The most common foods that are high in sodium include:
• Frozen foods
• Canned soups
• Deli meats/hot dogs
• Pizzas (frozen and fresh)
• Smoked, cured, salted fish, poultry and meats
• Salted snacks like chips and nuts
• Canned beans
• Canned entrees
• Ready-to-eat cereals
• Vegetable juices and canned vegetables
• Spaghetti sauce and condiments
• Antacids that contain sodium bicarbonate
Also headlining the news is a voluntary call from the FDA to food manufacturers here in the U.S. to start to limit the amount of sodium being used in foods. Framed as “Voluntary Sodium Reduction Goals: Target Mean and Upper Bound Concentrations for Sodium in Commercially Processed, Packaged, and Prepared Foods” the goal is to get food manufacturers to limit sodium in food without using a formal government issued mandate. Coupled with the New York menu mandate for sodium, these efforts may finally impact consumers’ awareness of sodium and help individuals to make healthier food selections.