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Chinese restaurant ‘sorry’ for suggesting customers weigh themselves before ordering

Chinese restaurant
  • ‘Our intention was to advocate not wasting food and for people to order in a healthy way,’ fried beef outlet says
  • Scheme was introduced after President Xi Jinping described China’s food waste problem ‘shocking and distressing’

A restaurant in central China has apologised for suggesting its customers weigh themselves before ordering their meals, just days after President Xi Jinping described the country’s food waste problem as “shocking and distressing”.“Our intention was to advocate not wasting food and for people to order in a healthy way,” the Chuiyan Fried Beef outlet in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, said on Saturday on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform.

“We never forced customers to weigh themselves.”

Nevertheless, the company was “deeply sorry” for any upset caused, it said.

The incident began on Thursday, when staff at the restaurant, which is part of a chain, put two scales at the entrance along with a note suggesting how much food people should order based on their body weight.

The guide recommended that women under 40kg (90lbs) should order no more than two dishes – suggestions included sautéed beef and steamed fish head – while men weighing 70-80kg could have up to three.

The restaurant’s Weibo post attracted a lot of interest and as of Sunday afternoon had been viewed more than 120 million times.

“There are many ways to promote [Xi’s] campaign,” said one user. “The restaurant didn’t need to use this eye-catching way to do so.”

Tan Yan, president of the Chuiyan Fried Beef chain, said that despite the upset, more than a thousand groups of customers had gone along with the idea.

“The activity was voluntary,” she said in an article published by The Beijing News on Saturday.

“Many female customers like to weigh themselves, and their body weight was sent to their phones, not shown on the scales, so it did not breach their privacy.”

The weigh-before-you-order campaign would continue, Tan said, but the company was looking at ways to improve it, such as “adding more information about the dishes’ nutritional and calorific values”.

Since Xi made his appeal to reduce food wastage, restaurants, online platforms and industry associations across the country have responded.

The Wuhan Catering Industry Association, for instance, urged restaurants in the city to implement an “N-1” system, which recommends customers order one dish fewer than the number of diners.

Similar schemes have been adopted in other parts of the country, while authorities in the northeastern province of Liaoning recommended an “N-2” policy for groups of customers.

“We should promote thrift and incorporate the prevention of food waste into the whole process of production, processing and service,” the Liaoning Catering Industry Association was quoted as saying in an article published by Liaoning Daily on Friday.

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