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Appeals court OKs NYC salt-warning rule for some restaurants

NEW YORK — An appeals court says New York City’s pioneering requirement for chain restaurants to flag salty items on their menus is both legal and “salutary.”

A state Supreme Court Appellate Division panel upheld the rule Friday. The regulation requires a salt-shaker-like icon for any chain restaurant dish with more than a full day’s recommended dose of sodium. That’s 2,300 milligrams, or about a teaspoon.

“This rule helps New Yorkers make informed decisions that can contribute to lower sodium intake,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “The Health Department will continue developing polices that uphold our mission of promoting and protecting the health of all New Yorkers.”

Appeals judges agreed with a lower court that the city Board of Health has the power to require the warning. The rule applies to all chain restaurants; only eateries with 15 or more locations are impacted.

The National Restaurant Association challenged the rule, saying the health board overstepped its authority and violated restaurateurs’ free-speech rights.

The regulation, which took effect in December 2015, was padded unanimously by the city’s board of health. Its members said New Yorkers deserved to know the salt levels in their food. Fines were held off until last March.

An average adult New Yorker consumes nearly 40 percent more than the recommended daily limit of sodium, according to the NYC Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. High levels of sodium intake have been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.