Clean Your Plate: NYC Restaurant Charging Patrons for Uneaten Food

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A review of the shocking story of a NYC restaurant charging extra if you don't finish your meal, and the potential problems this could lead to.

Recently, I listened with unbelief to a news clip on the radio, which told of a New York City Restaurant charging its patrons extra for any food left on their plate after they had finished dining!  Hayashi Ya Japanese Restaurant is a buffet-style eatery where diners can load their plates with a variety of foods for $26.95 US...unless you don't clean your plate.  According to the news report I heard, you could expect to pay up to an extra 20% for the food you don't eat, but are offered a discount if you eat every last morsel. What?  Refunding money if you lick the plate clean? However, when I checked into this story further, the only news clips I discovered (while looking on the Internet) report that the surcharge is apparently only 3% extra.  Still, this is unbelievable!  How could anyone get away with this...and furthermore, why?

The manager of the restaurant explains he implemented the extra charge because of all the food that gets thrown away, which ends up costing them...  So, the bottom line is, their bottom line.  Understandably, there are many people who can't afford much to eat, let alone to eat out, while others are wastefully gluttonous.  I'm sure we've all witnessed people waddling to the buffet for their third, heaped plate of food, only to leave half of it, and go back for something different; this, to me, is a disgusting display of excess.  So, while the manager of Hayashi Ya believes that the surcharge for not finishing your meal will compel people to take less food (and hence waste less food), it could also lead to the exact opposite behaviour:  people eating beyond a comfortable capacity, just because they have paid for it.  So, while ostensibly this goal is noble and good (reducing waste), it could also lead to the growing problem of obesity.  According to the World Health Organization (quoting from their website):

•Globally, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults, at least 300 million of them obese.

•Obesity and overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, and certain forms of cancer.

•The key causes are increased consumption of energy-dense foods high in saturated fats and sugars, and reduced physical activity.

It is obvious, from these statistics, that people today do not need any encouragement to eat more food than their body requires.  And, even if you were first admonished by your mother to clean your plate, and therefore you are still in the habit, is there really a need for a proprietor to carry on this same, outdated maxim?  If one restaurant does it, then another, and another, until it becomes a trend...what will this signify for the health of the nation?

Photo credit Stock.xchng

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Sharla Smith

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