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Should you be fined for wasting food?

Massive serving portions coupled with all-you-can-eat buffet options make for a strong selling point for many restaurants especially during Ramadan. But could a penalty fee for wasting food change that?

August 5, 2012 3:30 by

A restaurant in Saudi Arabia is making headlines for its unusual policy of penalizing customers for ‘wastage of food.’ According to the owner of the restaurant based in Dammam, in the Eastern Province, the penalty was put into place after many customers failed to consume their large orders of food—the owners stress wasting food goes against the teachings of Islam.

In a culture of excess, a ‘food wastage’ policy may sound absurd, but this isn’t the first time a restaurant has opted for this kind of a penalty. Consider the £20 (Dh114) fee owners of the Chinese restaurant Kylin Buffet charge those diners who do not eat all the food of their plates. The restaurant’s policy received much coverage after they fined Beverley Clark, a 40-year-old mother, after her son and niece left two onion rings, a prawn toast and a spring roll at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Or consider the standing policy in a Japanese restaurant in New York called Hayashi Ya which fines a customer 3 percent of their bill, if they do not finish what they serve themselves from the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Other restaurants opt for forms of positive reinforcement to encourage good eating habits. A Japanese restaurant called Wafu just outside of Sydney, Australia, gives its customers a 30 percent discount if they eat all the food they ordered. The company’s website begins with a special plea to its customers to: “Please be mindful of the amount of food you order – consider ordering just the right amount, in harmony with your appetite!”

Food wastage fines isn’t altogether a strange concept—but Kipp can’t help but think it would be very strange if it was every enforced here in the Emirates. After all, for a city like Dubai which has given birth to the institution of the Friday all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunch, it is difficult to think of such penalties being put in place. Yet given the country’s burgeoning obesity problem, perhaps a food wastage fee is exactly what is needed.

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  1. Jeeves on August 5, 2012 9:29 pm

    Wonder what happens at all these places if one does not like the food!… Finish the food one does not like or pay more for it… both options seem to be too harsh on a customer.

  2. dismanirie on August 6, 2012 2:53 pm

    What a shallow piece of journalism! Arab hospitality calls for the host to provide the guest with food and drink that even his family would not enjoy. The Holy Quran states that waste of food and drink is abhorrent. Yet Kipp Report chooses to pick out the egregious all-you-can-eat buffet culture of the West to pick on. This can be remedied by pricing waste out of the equation.

    What you should be concerned about is the hideous clash between boastful waste and consideration for sustainability. At a time when Arab countries seek to invest in foreign lands to secure “food security” it is criminal to throw unconsumed excess food in the garbage dump just to demonstrate that one can afford to do so.

    Don’t fine the culprits. Jail them and let them know what hunger feels like.


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