NYC sodium warning upheld in court.

  • As previously covered on this blog, New York City (NYC) health officials have adopted the nation’s first sodium warning requirement.  The rule requires restaurants that are part of chains with more than 15 locations nationwide to post warning statements about high sodium consumption levels and to display a salt shaker icon on menus and menu boards next to any food item with a high sodium content (>2,300 mg of sodium) or on tags next to any food on display that is a food item with a high sodium content.  The rule took effect on December 1, 2015, and the National Restaurant Association sued the NYC health department, seeking a preliminary injunction to halt its implementation.
  • On February 24, 2016, a New York Supreme Court judge upheld the sodium warning requirement, reasoning that “information is power” and that — unlike in the case of NYC’s controversial failed big soda ban — consumers will be free to use this information to make their own purchasing decisions.
  • The National Restaurant Association maintains that the sodium requirement is arbitrary, capricious, and poised to cause “irreparable harm” to chain restaurants.  An attorney for the association has indicated a plan to appeal, noting that the judge did not address the group’s claim that the sodium rule violated New York’s separation of powers doctrine, premised on the rule’s adoption without legislative guidance from the city or state.  In the meantime, affected chain restaurants have until March 1 to comply with the sodium rule, or else face the possibility of fines.