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Salt Shakers Could Be Coming to NYC Menus as Soon as December

A city hearing yesterday brought the controversy to a head.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York diners might see little salt shakers on menus at chain restaurants as soon as December. Earlier this summer, Mayor De Blasio proposed a measure, which would require chain restaurants to post a salt icon next to menu items that exceed the daily recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon worth) of salt. The proposal, which is part of the city's efforts to reduce the premature mortality rate by 25 percent by 2040, has stirred controversy since it was first introduced — but things became especially heated week.

Yesterday at a public hearing at the Department of Health in Queens advocates and opponents of the bill spoke up. Some health officials argue that the measure is too modest: Michael Jacobson, the director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, called the measure yesterday a "groundbreaking public-health initiative," but added: "it's an extraordinarily conservative approach." Meanwhile, restaurant reps and salt lobbyists are saying that changing out menus would be burdensome and unnecessary. President of the New York State Restaurant Association Melissa Fleischut told the Journal that restaurants are worried about how labeling will work for menu items that are intended to feed a group of people, like a large pizza.

This isn't the city's first attempt at providing diners with health information, of course. Calorie counts posted at chain restaurants have already been around for quite a while, though it's unclear how much it impacts the choices diners make.

Either way, the salt measure is slated to for a vote sometime in September. If it passes, it would only impact restaurants with 15 locations or more nationwide and those restaurants would have some time to change out menus — the bill wouldn't take effect until at least December 1, with a six month grace period before penalties are imposed on violators.

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