New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz may just be one of those fellows who get a little carried away with the cause of the moment. Or, as the first lawmaker to succeed in banning drivers from using hand-held cell phones, Assemblyman Ortiz might be someone to keep an eye on.
Now he has just introduced a bill to ban salt in all New York restaurants. A10129 has two co-sponsors, Margaret Markey and N. Nick Perry. Like Ortiz, both are Democrats.
It was introduced March 5, and may be going nowhere. But, then again, it comes after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a campaign by 26 cities and 17 national health organizations to reduce salt in the American diet.
When it was rolled out, that campaign was aimed at working with packaged foods processors and restaurant chains to bring about voluntary reductions in sodium.
Michael Jacobson at the Center for Science in the Public Interest told the Nation’s Restaurant News that, “limiting sodium requires more a scalpel than a meat axe.”
The campaign to reduce the amount of salt people are eating is based on setting targets for various food groups and uses. It also plans to raise awareness by the public. The goal is to cut sodium use by 50 percent during the next ten years.
People need sodium in their diets, but not more than 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams (mg) per say is recommended by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine. And lowering sodium intake has beneficial effects on blood pressure.
With a single serving can of “heat and sip” Campbell’s Classic Tomato soup containing 890 mg of sodium it is easy to see how quickly one can go over the daily limits.
But the Ortiz bill to ban salt is not going to bring New York chefs on board the campaign to get people to reduce their sodium intake. Instead, it’s helping the growth of a group called My Food My Choice.
A coalition of chefs, restaurant owners, and consumers, My Food My Choice used its Facebook page to label the ban salt bill “absurd.”
Chefs found guilty of using salt in the food they serve could be fined up to $1,000 per offense under the Ortiz bill. New York imposed a ban on the use of trans-fat in 2008 using similar penalties.