For years, fast food was derided for its high fat and calories. But now a different public enemy is being hunted—really salty food. Beginning Tuesday, chain restaurants in New York City will be required to put a triangular warning symbol indicating high-salt on their menus to caution hungry consumers, the AP reports.
According to most dietary recommendations, a person’s salt intake shouldn’t exceed 2,300 milligrams. The American Heart Association says that number should be even lower, around 1,500 milligrams. But if you frequent chain restaurants or eat a lot of processed food, it’s hard to stay under that number. The average American consumes about 3400 milligrams of salt every day.
The high-salt designation won’t be applied to anything with salt in it —a single menu item must actually exceed the recommended daily value of 2,300 milligrams to mandate the branding. And it will only apply to chains with at least 15 outlets, which account for about a third of all New York City restaurants.
It seems like there’s a tradeoff between calories/fat and sodium. McDonald’s and Burger King have fatty and salty (around 1,000 milligrams for a Big Mac for instance), but other, less health-stigmatized chains are much worse, like Chipotle, Panera, and Subway.
A chicken Chipotle burrito with the usual trimmings (but without guac or sour cream) tops the salt scale at 2410 milligrams, according to its online calculator, pushing you over your daily limit in one go. Panera’s Bacon Turkey Bravo hits 2,910 milligrams. Subway, which has positioned itself as the healthy option for years, has an spicy italian sandwich that its 3,200 milligrams. Of the “Classic” salads at Chop’t, almost half have over 1,000 grams of sodium. You cannot have it all.