Thursday, March 23, 2017

Like Everyone Else, The National Restaurant Association Puts Its Own Financial Greed Ahead of Public Welfare

They Don’t Care if You Eat Too Much Salt

In New York a rule requires large restaurant chains to place a little warning symbol next to high salt items.  This is so diners can order with knowledge rather than taking in an excessive amount of salt unknowingly.  All in all it seems like a nice thing to do.

The logo of a salt shaker, meant to warn consumers of high sodium content in food, appears on a menu.
The logo of a salt shaker, meant to warn consumers of high sodium content in food, appears on a menu. PHOTO: ANDREW BURTON/GETTY IMAGES

But the trade group for restaurants doesn’t like having to tell diners there are high salt items on the menu.  So it sued.

The National Restaurant Association, a trade group, sued the city in 2015, arguing the Board of Health overstepped its authority in requiring restaurants to post the warning. A trial court judge ruled for the city last February. The association then appealed that ruling.

What was their complaint?  Oh, it cost too much to print the little symbols.

Cicely Simpson, the National Restaurant Association’s executive vice president, said the group would explore all its legal options. Local sodium rules are costly and onerous, she said. “Instead of confusing state and local mandates, we believe the best approach to disclosing nutrition information is the uniformed national menu standard that will go into effect this year,” she added.

Fortunately the appeals court upheld this common sense approach.

A panel of justices from the Appellate Division’s First Department wrote that the saltshaker warnings provide information but don’t restrict what consumers can buy. The rule, enacted by the city’s Board of Health, requires restaurants with at least 15 locations nationwide to post saltshaker icons next to items with more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the daily recommended limit.
“Notably, the Rule does not restrict or even regulate what Chain Restaurants may offer for sale,” they said.

Because it provides information but doesn’t restrict sales, the rule differs from a proposed ban on large sugary drinks, which the Court of Appeals rejected in 2014, the panel wrote.

High salt diets have been shown to be a leading cause of cardio-vascular disease, the type that can, let’s see, can kill you.  So every now and then the good guys do win.

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