by Steve Gardner
The Center for Science in the Public Interest filed suit today in the Superior Court of New Jersey in Middlesex County, seeking to compel Denny's to disclose on menus the amount of sodium in each of its meals and to place a notice on its menus warning about high sodium levels. CSPI is working with the New Jersey firms of Galex Wolf, LLC and Williams Cuker Berezofsky.
The great majority of Denny's meals is dangerously high in sodium, putting its customers at greater risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Most Americans should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But at Denny's, the great majority of its meals contain more, and in some cases, several times more. Some meals at Denny's provide more than 4,000 or 5,000 mg of sodium—more than most adults should consume in three days. Diets high in sodium are a major cause of high blood pressure, which in turn is a major cause of heart disease and stroke, the first- and third-leading causes of death in the United States.
As my boss (CSPI’s co-founder and Executive Director) Mike Jacobson put it, "Denny's is slowly sickening its customers. For those Americans who should be most careful about limiting their sodium, such as people middle-aged and older, African-Americans, or people with existing high blood pressure, it's dangerous to eat at Denny's. Denny's customers deserve to be warned about the considerable health risk posed by many of these meals."
The plaintiff, Nick DeBenedetto, is a 48-year-old resident of Tinton Falls, NJ, who has eaten for many years at Denny’s restaurants in East Brunswick and Brick, NJ. Nick takes a prescription medication to control his high blood pressure and at home does not cook with salt or use the salt shaker. Some of his favorite Denny's items, such as Moons Over My Hammy or the Super Bird turkey sandwich, contain far more than 1,500 mg of sodium—even without soup, salad, fried onion rings, or other side dishes.
"I was astonished—I mean, literally floored—to find that these simple sandwiches have more salt than someone in my condition should have in a whole day," Nick says. "It's as if Denny's is stacking the deck against people like me. I never would have selected those items had I known."