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National Restaurant Association - Judge rules for sodium labeling in New York City

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Judge rules for sodium labeling in New York City

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled today that beginning March 1, chain restaurants must comply with the New York City Board of Health’s controversial sodium-labeling mandate.

The mandate requires chain restaurants with more than 15 locations nationally to post salt-shaker labels next to menu items exceeding 2,300 milligrams of sodium.

Saying “information is power,” Justice Eileen Rakower issued her immediate ruling following an hour-long hearing. In a short, prepared statement, she allowed the mandate to go forward, saying she believes the board’s action is consistent with federal law and that sodium labeling is “factual information that is good to have.”

The National Restaurant Association, which sued in December to block enforcement of the mandate, said it plans to appeal the judge’s decision. It also intends to seek “emergency interim relief” from the Appellate Division of the New York courts that would stay enforcement of the law pending that court’s decision.

“We believe today’s decision by the court to uphold this arbitrary, onerous and costly mandate is a blow to small business owners and undoes the very uniformity we worked for in advocating for a national federal menu-labeling standard,” said Angelo Amador, the NRA’s regulatory counsel.

In its original filing Dec. 3, the NRA contended the Board of Health’s mandate was “arbitrary and capricious” and “filled with irrational exclusions and nonsensical loopholes.” It added that under New York State law only the City Council had proper authority to impose such a regulation.

In recent years, the Board of Health has fought to ban trans fats in restaurant meals, require restaurants to post caloric content on menus and menu boards, and limit the size of sugar-sweetened beverages to no more than 16 ounces. The NRA sued over the beverage rule and won on appeal.

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