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Politics

China adds teeth to crusade against food waste with new law

Restaurants, broadcasters and more face penalties for promoting overindulgence

Restaurants that encourage excessive orders by customers will be fined up to $1,500 for repeat offenses.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- China enacted a wide-ranging law Thursday designed to reduce food waste in the country, including by imposing fines of up to 100,000 yuan ($15,500) on broadcasters and streaming services involved in content that promotes binge eating.

The law, which answers President Xi Jinping's calls for greater awareness regarding food security, also targets China's restaurant scene. When eating out, Chinese hosts traditionally order more food rather than less as a way to show hospitality to their guests. Restaurants now are permitted to collect a garbage disposal fee from customers who leave large amounts of food on their plates.

Restaurants that encourage excessive orders by customers will receive a warning, then a fine of up to 10,000 yuan for repeat offenses.

Office and school cafeterias as well as food delivery apps also must take steps to reduce waste. Supermarkets are instructed to manage foods approaching their expiration dates and sell them off in bulk.

Such detailed requirements stem from Xi's comment in August urging a "sense of crisis" regarding food security. He discouraged the public from overindulging in food and drink, partly in anticipation of protracted tensions with the U.S., from which China imports soy and corn.

Deliberation on separate legislation to safeguard China's food security is expected to begin later this year.

Restaurants in China's cities waste 17 million to 18 million tons of food a year, enough to feed 30 million to 50 million people, according to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and other institutions. One estimate suggests China could face a food shortage of about 130 million tons by 2025 as its farming population shrinks.

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