City Hall Teaches Low-Sodium Chinese Cooking to … Chinese Cooks

NPR reports that City Hall is working with 200 Chinese takeout restaurants across Philadelphia, teaching them how to cook your favorite dishes with less salt—and urging them to give you fewer soy sauce packets when they deliver.

Of course, Chinese takeout isn’t the only restaurant food loaded with extra salt. Philly could just have easily launched its lower-salt pilot program among the city’s cheesesteak shops or salty pretzel vendors. So why target the lo mein?

It’s all about demographics and location, says Giridhar Mallya, director of policy and planning at the city’s Department of Public Health.

“We know that there are at least 400 Chinese takeout restaurants in Philadelphia,” Mallya says, “and they are predominantly in low-income, African-American and Hispanic communities.”

Those populations have some of the highest rates — and risks — for high blood pressure and heart disease.

Early results are apparently encouraging: Secret tests show that sodium rates declined by 20 percent in restaurants that received training.