New law orders Philly restaurants to warn diners of high sodium

Philadelphia Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown holds up a test to check for excessive salt in food. A new city law requires restaurants to warn diners of high-sodium menu items. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown holds up a test to check for excessive salt in food. A new city law requires restaurants to warn diners of high-sodium menu items. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

A new Philadelphia law will be worth its salt in better health, say proponents of the requirement that restaurants point out excessive amounts of sodium.

The eateries must warn diners of menu items with more than 2,300 milligrams of salt. Many people don’t know when there is excessive salt in many foods, said Dr. Thomas Farley, city health commissioner.

“Those food items don’t taste especially salty, so there is no way for people to know they have a day’s worth of sodium in one item. This warning will let them know that,” Farley said. “This will make it easy for them to identify items with very high amounts of sodium — then they can choose whether they want to have it anyway or whether they want a different menu choice.”

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown said it’s just one step toward helping people become healthier.

“If a menu item must have a warning label placed next to it, then maybe the menu item should be reinvented with different ingredients or replaced,” she said. “Maybe that’s the next step for us.”

Philadelphia is only the second major city in the country to require sodium warnings.  The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating pattern.

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