A New York appeals court on Monday temporarily stopped New York City from enforcing a new rule requiring chain restaurants to post warnings on menu items high in sodium, according to a lawyer for a restaurant group challenging the regulation.
A judge in the Appellate Division, First Department, granted an interim stay of enforcement of the rule, S. Preston Ricardo, an attorney for the National Restaurant Association, said. Starting tomorrow, violators would have been subject to $200 fines. Justice Eileen Rakower of state Supreme Court in Manhattan last Wednesday shot down a challenge to the rule by the restaurant group, paving the way for enforcement of the regulation.
The rule, believed to be the first of its kind in the United States, requires city restaurants with 15 or more locations nationwide to post a salt shaker encased in a black triangle as a warning next to menu items with more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the daily limit recommended by the federal government.
The city did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A full panel of the court will decide, probably later this month, on whether to grant an injunction to keep the fines at bay until it rules on an appeal, Ricardo said.
Rakower found the city's Board of Health was within its rights to adopt the rule, which took effect in December, to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Years ago, the city banned transfats in restaurants and required chains to post calorie counts.
However, a proposed ban on selling sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces was struck down by the state's highest court in 2014.
Unlike the city's failed soda ban, Rakower said, the salt rule did not restrict the use of sodium.
The city's Board of Health "did not act outside the bounds of its authority in the area of public health by adopting a rule requiring chain restaurants to post sodium warning labels," the judge said in a written decision Friday.
The restaurant group claims the rule is “arbitrary and capricious” and “filled with irrational exclusions and nonsensical loopholes.” It also said only the City Council had the authority to impose such a regulation.
"We are gratified that the appellate court recognized the seriousness of the issues that we've raised on appeal," Ricardo said.