Southeastern PA

Philly to enforce salt warning rule at chain restaurants

'Nearly all of us consume far too much sodium'

PHILADELPHIA - Philadelphia is about to start enforcing a rule that requires chain restaurants to post warning labels next to menu items that are high in salt.

Restaurants, coffee shops, and convenience stores with 15 or more nationwide locations must post warnings for any menu item that has more than 2,300 milligrams, which is the recommended sodium total for an entire day.

"For years, healthcare providers have told patients suffering from hypertension and heart disease to cut back on sodium in their diet, and they have listened and put the salt shakers away," said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. "We now know, however, that the largest source of sodium in American's diets are in packaged and restaurant foods."

Farley noted that the average American consumes 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day.

The legislation was signed by Mayor Jim Kenney on September 14, 2018, but the city decided to delay enforcement of the rule for one year. Starting Saturday, the city's health department will issue warnings to violators. After December 14, businesses that don't comply with the rule will face a fine of up to $250.

"Of the nation's 10 largest cities, Philadelphia has the highest rate of high blood pressure," Kenney said. "Decreasing sodium consumption has the potential to lower high blood pressure rates by 25 percent, preventing hundreds of deaths a year from heart attack and stroke."

Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed the measure in 2018, after it was introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown.

"With nearly a half-million Philadelphians suffering from hypertension, and communities of color bearing a disproportionate burden of that diagnosis, it is imperative that restaurants provide customers the information that they need to make better, more healthy food choices," Reynolds-Brown said.

About one in three adults in the U.S. has high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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