An illustration of a fork and knife, a warning sign made out of salt with a salt shaker in the middle, and a menu all on top of a table. The text reads Look before you eat!

Nutrition: Sodium

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Most New Yorkers eat more sodium than what is recommended to reduce chronic disease risk. Too much sodium can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and in New York City. Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed foods that are sold in stores and foods found in restaurants. NYC has initiatives to help lower the sodium in the food supply and to help New Yorkers eat less salt.

Reduce Your Sodium Intake

Limit processed foods and drinks, when possible. Processed foods are often higher in added sugar and sodium than whole or minimally processed foods.

When you do buy processed foods, always read the Nutrition Facts label and choose products with lower sodium levels. Many processed foods at your grocery store have more sodium than you think, even ones that do not taste salty and sodium varies between products.

Cook and eat mostly whole and minimally processed foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. One example of an eating pattern rich in these plant foods is the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan.

Look for the sodium warning icon on chain restaurant menus in NYC. This icon means that the menu item contains 2,300 mg or more of sodium: A black warning sign with a white salt shaker in the middle.

NYC Sodium Initiatives

National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative (NSSRI)

The National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative is a national effort to reduce sodium and added sugar in the food supply. The Health Department coordinates this innovative public-private partnership to help prevent heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes by encouraging major food companies to make specific voluntary commitments that will make packaged foods healthier.

Sodium Warning Rule

NYC was the first city in the nation to require chain restaurants to post a warning icon next to menu items that contain at least 2,300 mg of sodium. The proposal was passed unanimously on September 9, 2015 by the NYC Board of Health, and requires restaurants with 15 or more locations nationwide to post a warning icon next to high sodium menu items and a message about the health risks of high sodium intake.

New Yorkers have the information necessary to make informed decisions about their diets and their health when purchasing items at chain restaurants.

For Chain Restaurants

Let the Health Department know of any changes in your menus and will work with you to avoid having violations unnecessarily cited against your stores. If you reformulate a menu item so that it no longer requires the sodium warning icon, email If satisfied that the item no longer merits an icon, we will instruct our inspectors not to cite menus for not having one next to it. You may also contact us if you erroneously receive a violation citing an item which contains less than 2,300 mg of sodium.

Additional Resources

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