Feeling Salty? Philadelphia to Begin Sodium-Shaming Chain Eateries That Sell Very Salty Food

If a menu item has more than a day's recommended amount of sodium, Philadelphia chain restaurants must now put a warning next to the food.

What to Know

  • The USDA-recommended level of sodium intake a day is 2,300 milligrams.
  • Americans, on average, consumer about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day.
  • It's the newest health regulation adopted by Philadelphia lawmakers, following other menu-labeling legislation and the sugary-beverage tax.

A new regulation requiring restaurant chains in Philadelphia to post warnings next to menu items with high-sodium content goes into effect this week.

The eateries "must post warning labels on menu items and combination meals with 2,300 milligrams of sodium or more," according to details provided by the city Department of Public Health.

The city could not provide figures on how many restaurants would have to list sodium content on menus. Chains with 15 or more locations are required to post the warnings under the new regulation.

The legislation was signed by Mayor Jim Kenney last fall after City Council passed the requirement in 2018.

According to city health officials, the 2,300-milligram figure comes from federal guidelines.

"Eating one of these items alone puts the consumer over the maximum daily sodium intake recommended by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans and American Heart Association," according to Fit Food Philly, a city website with healthy food-related information.

The rule was adopted in hopes of lowering what already are high-sodium diets for many Americans.

"The average American consumes 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day, well above the recommended upper limit of 2,300 milligrams," Fit Food Philly reads.

The regulation is the latest in a thread of pro-health regulations imposed by Philadelphia on restaurants and groceries in the last decade, including requirements for listing calorie counts on menus and the sugary-beverage tax.

The city's first menu-labeling law went into effect in 2010, five years before the federal government began requiring chain restaurants to label their menus across the country.

Restaurants affected by the city's new high-sodium rule must comply by Sept. 14.

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