NYC Mayor Signs 'Sweet Truth Act' Regulating How Restaurants Display Added Sugar

Things are changing on some NYC menus.

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

Diners at some New York City restaurants may see new information printed on menus over the next few months. On Friday, the city's mayor, Eric Adams, signed the "Sweet Truth Act" into law. The legislation requires chains with 15 or more restaurants in the city to label any food and drinks that exceed the FDA's recommended daily amounts of added sugar.

The FDA's current guidelines suggest that adults keep their daily added sugar consumption to less than 10% of their total calories per day. If someone eats a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, they should not eat more than 50 grams of added sugar, according to the FDA, which adds up to around 200 calories.

It's important to note that the FDA distinguishes added sugar from the sugars found naturally in milk, fruits, or vegetables. The agency defines added sugars as those "that are added during the processing of foods (such as sucrose or dextrose), foods packaged as sweeteners (such as table sugar), sugars from syrups and honey, and sugars from concentrated fruit or vegetable juices." The Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center reports, American adults consume an average of 77 grams of added sugar per day, while American children eat an average of 81 grams of added sugar per day.

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"We see a major crisis in the city – and beyond it – when it comes to nutrition and obesity. We are trying to make New Yorkers eat healthier and live healthier lifestyles," New York City Councilmember Keith Power told Gothamist, adding that some NYC residents may consume their full recommended daily allowance of added sugar with one item they "pick up on their morning commute."

The bill's text states that restaurants with 15 or more locations will be required to "conspicuously post added sugar icons and factual warning statements on menus or menu boards" if those items have more than 50 grams of added sugar. Restaurants have one year to comply with the new law, or they will face a penalty of $200.

Although the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is very much in favor of the law, it does note that "one key challenge" facing restaurants will be identifying the menu items that are on the wrong side of those new requirements. In some situations, city officials might have to use the information printed on a pre-packaged food's nutrition label to estimate how much is in the restaurant's equivalent item. The CSPI has since asked the FDA to require restaurants to make their added sugar information public.

"This bill provides a key opportunity for the FDA to directly act in support of communities that want to positively impact public health," CSPI's senior policy associate, Dr. DeAnna Nara, said in a statement. "We urge the FDA to act quickly to ensure Americans have access to the information they need to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. We have a critical opportunity to create a healthier New York City to serve as a model for cities and states nationwide." 

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