Is punishment for wasting food justified?

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Buffet, table with food

Not wasting food formed an important part of the growing up of most people. Can you remember how important it was to eat every bit of food on your plate when you were a child? We had to remain at the table until our plates were empty. The worst was missing out on the dessert if anything was left on our plates. However, I often wonder whether those lessons had the desired impact in the long run.

Wasting food is a global problem

Wasting food happens across the world, even though millions are starving. According to the United Nations, only about two-thirds of produced food worldwide land in people’s bellies. It is shocking to learn that people waste more than one billion tons of food each year. Furthermore, to get to the point where food is wasted, growing and cultivating crops, shipping it, storage and preparation occur. This represents additional wastage of many billions of dollars.

Wasting food, leftovers

Do buffet restaurants encourage wasting food?

Portion sizes of food served in most a la carte restaurants are often excessive, but the paying customers do not have much say in that. However, when it comes to restaurants and clubs offering all-you-can-eat buffets, the guests certainly have control of how much they choose to dish up. It is just shocking to see how many people’s eyes are bigger than their bellies. Guests seem to get it all wrong. They hear all-you-want instead of all-you-can-eat.

Extra charge for uneaten food

Some buffet restaurant owners have started charging diners for wasting food. They take a stand against people who fill their plates to capacity and then send most of it back to the kitchen, untouched. Those diners have an additional charge on their bills for food wastage. It also happens in other countries. For example, a buffet restaurant in Switzerland and a Chinese buffet restaurant in London add wastage fees. Unfortunately, there is no indication that the punishment has any positive effect.

Wasting food, leftovers

Does it make a difference?

Many people do not even look at the bill before paying it. The effect of several bottles of wine, notably enjoyed to the last drop might have something to do with that. No wastage there.

Other attempts to protect the environmental by charging for plastic bags have been going on for years, with little success. The idea was to get people to bring their own reusable bags when shopping, but the charge for plastic bags is insignificant enough not to have an impact.

So what do you think? Are restaurants charging penalties for wasting food justified?

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