NYC Gets OK to Issue Salt-Warning Fines as Lawsuit Continues

NEW YORK (AP) -

New York City plans to start enforcing a first-of-its-kind requirement for chain restaurants to use icons to warn patrons of salty foods after getting an appeals court’s go-ahead Thursday to start issuing fines. But it’s not the final word on whether the regulation will stand.

The novel rule took effect in December, and some eateries already have added the requisite salt-shaker-like icons to menu items that contain more salt than doctors recommend ingesting in an entire day.

But penalties have been in limbo as the National Restaurant Association fights the measure in court. That clash is ongoing, but an appeals court Thursday lifted a temporary hold on issuing the fines while the case plays out. Fines can be up to $600.

The city will start enforcing the rule June 6.

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio applauded the appeals court’s decision on what he called “a common-sense regulation that will help New Yorkers make better decisions and lead healthier lives.” The city won the first round of the lawsuit in a trial court in February; the restaurant association appealed.

The group called on the city Thursday to delay enforcement voluntarily until the appeal is resolved. They argue that nutritional warnings should be up to federal regulators and that there’s disagreement among scientists about how much salt is too much. The group also argues the city’s requirement violates restaurateurs’ free-speech rights.

The regulation applies to the New York City locations of restaurants and fast-food places with more than 15 outlets nationwide.