Philadelphia Councilwoman to Propose High-Sodium Labels on Restaurant Menus

The legislation would require food items with 2,300 milligrams or more of sodium at chain restaurants to be labeled.

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The five-piece chicken tenders menu item at Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen fast food restaurant has 3,035 milligrams of sodium.

That doesn't include a side item. (Take the macaroni and cheese, for instance, which has 2,995 milligrams of sodium.)

Those tenders (and that mac-and-cheese) would have to be labeled through proposed legislation expected to be introduced Thursday by Philadelphia Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown.

The bill would require all chain restaurants in the city to label any menu items containing 2,300 milligrams or more of sodium. The rule would add to a list of health-conscious laws in Philadelphia that proponents say promote well-being and critics describe as overbearing.

The city several years ago passed a menu labeling requirement for any restaurant chain with 15 or more locations. And a much-debated sugary-drink tax signed into law in 2016 remains on the books, but is still being contested by soda distributors. The state Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to hear an appeal by the distributors.

"It is imperative that we work with the City of Philadelphia to secure additional protection measures designed to further protect and improve the health of children, families and our communities," Reynolds Brown said.
"We cannot assume that consumers know the nutritional content of food before they eat. This legislative measure is another opportunity to educate promote smart food choices and educate our communities about what they are consuming."

Mayor Jim Kenney said he supports the bill.

"People can't make good choices without information," Kenney said in a statement. "A sodium warning label gives people information they need to help keep themselves healthy."

Reynolds Brown is expected to introduce the bill at a City Council hearing Thursday morning.

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