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Philadelphia Mayor Signs Bill Requiring Sodium Warning on Menus

  • Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed legislation last Friday that requires chain food establishments to include warning labels on menus next to items containing 2,300 milligrams (mg) or more of sodium. As previously reported on this blog, the Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed the legislation at the end of June 2018. Philadelphia is the second U.S. city to require sodium warning on menus. New York City passed the nation’s first sodium warning policy in 2015.

  • While Philadelphia’s sodium labeling law took effect on September 14, 2018, the City won’t start enforcing the new rules until September 14, 2019. For the first three months, the Philadelphia Department of Health will only issue a warning. After December 14, 2019, the City will issue tickets that include fines. Chain retail food establishments include, but are not limited to, restaurants, convenience stores, delis, bakeries, grocery store food counters and coffee shops. Businesses that are not able to meet the compliance deadline may apply for a six-month extension.

  • “Of the nation’s 10 largest cities, Philadelphia has the highest rate of high blood pressure,” said Mayor Kenney in a press release about the new law. The mayor added that decreasing sodium consumption has the potential to lower high blood pressure rates by 25%. The average American consumes 3,400 mg of sodium per day. The Daily Value for sodium is 2,300 mg per day – Daily Values are reference amounts of nutrients to consume or not to exceed each day for adults and children 4 years of age and older, as determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • The bill was originally introduced by Philadelphia Councilmember Blondell Reynolds Brown. When the bill was signed into law, she stated, “It is incredibly empowering to all Philadelphia’s consumers to know exactly, and quite literally, what they are consuming, especially when their menu choices can negatively affect their health.” It remains to be seen if other jurisdictions will introduce similar measures.

© 2019 Keller and Heckman LLP


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Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...