FAQ's : Menu Labeling

Answers to your menu labeling questions

1. What is the DC MEAL Act?


The DC MEAL Act stands for the DC Menu Education and Labeling Act. It is a bill that would require restaurants with 10 or more locations nationwide to post nutrition information on their menus or menu boards.


2. What nutrition information would be available under the DC MEAL Act?


Restaurants would have to post the total number of calories, grams of saturated fat, grams of trans fat, grams of carbohydrates, and the total amount of sodium in each item on their menus. Restaurants with only menu boards would have to post total number of calories. Buffets would have to provide the number of calories in a standard serving for all self-serve items.


3. How is menu labeling useful to customers?


Many people are trying to improve their health by paying more attention to the foods that they are eating and are not able to correctly guess the number of calories in foods eaten at restaurants. Most people say that Nutrition Facts labels (found on foods in the grocery store) are important to them and affect what they buy. The DC MEAL Act would give restaurant customers some of the same information that is on Nutrition Facts label, so that they can make the same kinds of decisions that they make in the grocery store. DC residents have the right to make healthy, informed choices when ordering food in restaurants. In order to do this, they must be given the information.  


4. How can menu labeling help make DC residents healthier?


Over half of DC residents are currently overweight. Studies show that eating fewer calories can lead to weight loss and helps in weight management. Many diseases, like diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, are common in the District and related to being overweight. Making healthy food choices is important not only to prevent these diseases, but also as part of treating them.  People in DC spend the most amount of money on food away from home in the United States. This makes it important for them to be able to make healthy, informed choices in restaurants. 


5. Where will the nutrition information be posted?


Under the DC MEAL Act, nutrition information would be given at point-of-purchase. This means that if a restaurant has menus it would be available in the menu. If a restaurant does not have menus it would be on menu boards. The nutrition information would be written in the same size as the other information about the food.  Click here to see an example.


6. What restaurants would be affected by the DC MEAL Act? 


Any restaurant with 10 or more locations nationwide would be required to post nutrition information under the DC MEAL Act.