Imagine looking forward to treating yourself to a good meal at the end of a long day, only to be reminded of your weight before even entering the restaurant. That’s what diners at a beef joint in China experienced when they were encouraged to step on a scale and order based on their weight.
Chuiyan Fried Beef, a restaurant located in Changsha City, Hunan province, placed two scales by its entrance and urged customers to enter their weight into an app that would suggest menu items based on the nutritional value and calories of each dish. According to the South China Morning Post, women under 40kg (88lbs) were recommended to not order more than two dishes, while men who weighed 70 - 80kg (154 - 176lbs) could order up to three.
Inside the restaurant were signs that said “be thrifty and diligent, promote empty plates” and “operation empty place,” BBC News reported.
Unsurprisingly, this didn’t go over well with many people. The restaurant was heavily criticised on the Chinese social media site Weibo as soon as the initiative started on Friday, August 14. A hashtag related to the issue has been viewed over 300 million times on the platform, according to AFP.
Following the backlash, the restaurant posted a statement on Weibo the next day, saying that customers were not forced to weigh themselves. They also told The Beijing News that a diner’s weight is not seen on the scale but directly sent to their phone. The restaurant said it was “deeply” sorry about setting up the weighing scales and explained that the initiative was just done to help support a national campaign against food waste.
Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the country had a distressing amount of food waste and must “maintain a sense of crisis about food security." This comes as issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and flooding have led to a rise in food prices.
But it doesn’t stop at weighing scales in restaurants. Businesses have thought of a number of other unusual ways to try to solve the problem. According to AFP, some in the food industry have asked diners to order one dish fewer than the number of people at a table, while the government has warned against mukbang videos, a worldwide trend that has people eating large amounts of food in front of a camera. Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, even said that it would start sending messages that say “reject waste and eat reasonably” to users who search for these videos.
Find Miran on Instagram.