Hong Kong (CNN)A call from Beijing to reduce food waste has sent officials and businesses scrambling to find ways to stop people from ordering too much, and in some extreme cases put meal times under surveillance.
In authoritarian China, eating freely is a cherished activity. Now a food waste campaign wants to control meals, too
Shanghai officials are asking residents to report food-wasting behaviors. Food industry bosses are urging diners to order at least one fewer dish than the number of people in their group. And one restaurant in southern Hunan province even asked diners to weigh themselves before entering, to help them choose appropriate meals.
Like many countries around the world, China has a massive problem with food waste. In 2015, the country tossed enough to feed at least 30 to 50 million people -- the populations of Australia and New Zealand combined, or the state of Texas -- for an entire year, according to Chinese state media
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the campaign to tackle what he called the "shocking and distressing" problem of food waste on August 11, state-run news agency Xinhua said. His message came as the Covid-19 outbreak disrupted global food supply chains.
But his directive lacked specifics, leaving it up to zealous officials and citizens across the nation to engineer sometimes drastic methods to tackle the issue.