New York City begins a new era in nutritional warnings this week, when chain restaurants will have to start putting a special symbol on high-salt dishes.
The first-of-its-kind rule took effect yesterday. It will require a salt-shaker emblem on some sandwiches, salads and other menu items that top the recommended daily limit of 2,300mg - about a teaspoon - of sodium.
It is the latest in a series of novel nutritional moves by the nation's biggest city, and it comes as health advocates, federal regulators and some in the food industry are trying to get Americans to cut down on salt.
Experts say most Americans consume too much of it, raising their risks of high blood pressure and heart problems.
"With the high sodium warning label, New Yorkers will have easily accessible information that can affect their health," city health commissioner Dr Mary Bassett said when the Board of Health approved the new warning in September.
The average American consumes about 3,400mg of salt per day.
A TGI Friday's New York cheddar and bacon burger counts 4,280mg, for example; a Chili's boneless Buffalo chicken salad has 3,460mg. The figures come from the firm's published nutritional information. But salt producers say the city is acting on misimpressions about the risks of salt in New Yorkers' diets. An international study involving 100,000 people suggested last year that most people's salt intake was all right for heart health, though other scientists faulted the study. While eateries are expected to comply as of yesterday, the city will not start collecting fines until March.
high-salt warnings will go on menus in new York