China Restaurant Apologizes for Weighing Customers Pre-Meal

By Ned Kelly, August 16, 2020

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A restaurant in Changsha, capital of Central China’s Hunan province, has apologized for encouraging diners to weigh themselves before their meal, and suggesting what they should order based on the reading, reports the BBC.

The beef restaurant placed two large scales at its entrance, asking diners to enter their measurements into an app, which would then recommend menu items accordingly.

In a reference to China’s ‘Clean Plate Campaign’ – aimed at reducing food waste – signs were also placed in the restaurant that read “be thrifty and diligent, promote empty plates” and “operation empty plate.”

After fierce backlash on social media, the offending restaurant posted an apology online, saying it was “deeply sorry” for its interpretation of the newly-launched campaign. 

“Our original intentions were to advocate stopping waste and ordering food in a healthy way,” the restaurant added, “We never forced customers to weigh themselves.”

The ‘Clean Plate Campaign’ started this week after President Xi Jinping called the amount wasted “shocking and distressing,” as reported by Shine.

READ MORE: China Launches 'Clean Plate Campaign' to Reduce Food Waste

Xi highlighted the need to maintain a sense of crisis regarding food security, amid the fallout of the COVID-19 epidemic, which he said had “sounded the alarm.” The worst mass flooding in decades has also left farms wrecked and ruined tons of produce.

The President called for the campaign to “enhance public awareness of the issue, effectively cultivate thrifty habits and foster a social environment where waste is shameful and thriftiness is applaudable.”

Taking a slightly more subtle approach than that of the Changsha restaurant, regional catering industry associations have begun advocating an ‘N-1 policy‘ – implementing a system where groups must order one dish less than the number of diners. For example, a group of 10 people would be limited to ordering nine dishes. The policy also suggests restaurants serve smaller or half-portions for lone diners

A 2018 report by the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that the average restaurant diner in China wastes 93 grams of food every meal, contributing to the 18 million tons of food its large cities throw away every year – enough to feed 30 to 50 million people.

[Cover image by Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels]

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