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About four years back, At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson had a bright idea, one that would put D.C. at the vanguard of the healthy-eating movement: Force certain D.C. restaurateurs to provide nutritional information about calories, fat, carbohydrates, and sodium along with their dishes. Well, the Nutritional Information at Restaurants Act of 2003 didn’t go anywhere, but now—-with a new cast of characters on the Council dais—-Mendelson’s giving it another shot, this time with a catchy acronym.
Like the original bill, the Menu Education and Labeling (MEAL) Act of 2007 restricts its scope to chain eateries with 10 or more locations nationwide. According to a list distributed with Mendelson’s press release, the new requirements would affect 37 of the 78 chains of that size operating within the District (the rest already offer nutrition facts on the Internet) including 7-Eleven, Buca di Beppo, and Legal Sea Foods. One thing’s for sure: Phil’s no longer a pioneer—-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has stolen his thunder in intervening years.
Mendelson’s not alone on this one: Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry is cosponsoring—-always a guy very keen to know what he’s ingesting.
What say you folks: reasonable requirement or nanny state run amok?