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Menu Labeling Opposition Facts

April 3, 2007

Opposition Facts

Menu Education and Labeling Act of 2007 – Bill 17-0139 Introduced by Councilmember Mendelson mandating that retail food establishments with 10 or more locations nationally provide the calories, grams of saturated fat plus trans fat, grams of carbohydrates and milligrams of sodium on all food and beverage. 

  1. Economic & Regulatory Ramifications for DC Restaurants and DC:

    • Restaurant operators have stated that they will not venture into DC if this bill is passed. It creates an economic barrier to DC benefiting border jurisdictions and jobs will be lost.

    • This bill would create yet one more hurdle to businesses already struggling with a difficult regulatory environment. This would be disabling not only to the hospitality industry but also to the city.

    • Who will implement and enforce this new law? The legislation will create substantial additional burdens in regulation and enforcement to the restaurant industry and to the District government that is already burdened with enforcement of the Smoking Ban.

    • Cost of implementation, execution, additional employee training on the analysis of all food and beverage as required by this bill will be extensive and expensive to a restaurant or like business.  Problematic logistical application, fat content differs based on meat temperature preference, etc.

    • Limits menu specials to only those analyzed: what is fresh today cannot be served till dissection, printing, training. It eliminates “specials du jour” from District restaurants’ vocabulary. This would create a cookie-cutter environment for restaurants and the retail food and beverage industry.

  2. Liability associated with this bill is disastrous with potential lawsuit ramifications resulting if a spoonful, more or less, of an ingredient is inadvertently altered from the recipe during prep. Since the legislation also calls for the posting of unspecified nutritional data, the legal quagmire is sure to be deep.

  3. Restaurants were exempted from the 1990 Nutrition Labeling Act primarily due to the fact that 70% of all restaurant orders are customized. The majority of the menu analyses would be inaccurate and thus the public would be misinformed.

  4. Definition in the legislation is vague, discourages restaurant ownership, and discriminates amongst like businesses.

  5. Neither obesity nor fitness can be legislated:

    • According to National Restaurant Association (NRA) statistics, 76% all meals are consumed in the home and nutrition labeling is not a solution to the complex problem of obesity.

    • Proponents of a menu labeling mandate have frequently used faulty studies while playing the shameful blame game disparaging: restaurants, civil liberties freedom of choice, personal responsibility and the pleasurable dining experience. RAMW and NRA recommend and advocate education not increased regulations.

    • Nutritional labeling on items in grocery stores has not decreased the obesity problems in the U.S.

  6. This legislation has been touted as not impacting fine dining establishments.  However it would affect many fine dining establishments throughout Washington DC such as: The Palm, Morton’s The Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, McCormick & Schmick’s, Legal Seafood, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and The Oceanaire Seafood Room.