Cue the mic, because the government of India wants to drop a big one. Apart from telling you what you can eat, with the beef ban, making it difficult for you to drink, with the liquor ban, guess what! Now the government wants to tell you how much you can eat. No, I’m not kidding, this is really happening.
Ram Vilas Paswan, consumer affairs minister, recently announced that a meeting would be called to decide “the maximum amount of a dish a person can eat.” The logic behind the ‘regulation’ of food portions is to ‘curb food wastage’. However, chefs, restauranteurs, and customers believe that it’s missed the mark completely.
The first problem with this lies in profit margins. Restaurateurs don’t want to waste more than you want to spend extra money. Ganesh Shetty, president of the Pune Restaurant and Hoteliers Association says that wasted food directly affects the profits of a restaurant and that restaurants are already very careful and calculative about how much they cook and serve. Instead, he suggests that the government focus on building a channel through which surplus and leftover food can reach the poor and strays, respectively.
The fact of the matter is that it’s the lavish banquets and weddings that actually end up wasting. Restaurants, on the other hand, are quite sensitive to wastage as it directly affects their profit margins.
Next is the question do customers really waste? Why would people want to waste their hard earned money? The majority of wasted food occurs when food is sent back, and having fixed food portions definitely isn’t going to solve that problem. Neither are buffets the problem, as many restaurants have started doing live counters which minimize the leftovers.
Star hotels already follow global protocol while deciding on food portions so there really is no additional need for the government to regulate to such an extent.
Aniruddha Patil, the founder of an online food community, hit the nail on the head when he asked, “What if I order two of these ‘government fixed’ portions and can’t finish more than one and a half? You can’t have an objective solution to a subjective problem. It’s like telling an author to write only 100 pages because some people can only read 100 pages.”