Activist group sues Denny's over sodium levels

Hundreds of people wait in line at a Denny's in North Hollywood, California for a Free Grand Slam breakfast February 3, 2009. REUTERS/Rene Macura/Handout

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A consumer activist group sued Denny’s Corp on Thursday, saying the restaurant chain’s menus should disclose the “dangerously high” levels of sodium in its meals.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest said most Americans should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day, but some meals at Denny’s contain more than 5,000 milligrams.

Diets high in sodium are a major cause of high blood pressure, which is linked to heart disease and stroke.

“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,” said CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson. “Denny’s customers deserve to be warned about the considerable health risk posed by many of these meals.”

A Denny’s spokeswoman said the company had no immediate comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in Middlesex County, New Jersey.

The CSPI said its analysis of the restaurant’s menu items showed that Denny’s Meat Lover’s Scramble, which has two eggs with chopped bacon, diced ham, crumbled sausage, cheese plus two bacon strips, two sausage links, hash browns, and two pancakes had 5,690 milligrams of sodium, or 379 percent of the advised daily limit.

The advocacy group said it had held private negotiations with Denny’s over sodium levels earlier this year. After the talks ended, Denny’s cut sodium in a few items but did not reduce it throughout its menu as the CSPI had urged, the group said.

Reporting by Julie Vorman; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn