Indian government to fix portion sizes of dishes served by hotels and restaurants to limit food wastage
New Delhi, April12:Ram Vilas Paswan, minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution told HT on Monday that the NDA government is preparing to fix portion sizes of dishes served by hotels and restaurants, as a measure to curb food wastage.
Concerns over food wastage abound across the world – according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture organisation, roughly one-third of the food produced for human consumption currently goes to waste every year, even as millions starve. In developing countries 40% of losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels.
Paswan’s latest move comes in addition to a slew of consumer-centric proposals that the ministry has incorporated in a new draft bill to amend Consumer Protection Act.
The draft bill is at present under law ministry’s consideration. In the new bill, the government has dropped the provision for imprisonment of celebrities for misleading advertisements; instead, a jail term has been proposed for producers or manufacturers.
“We dropped it (jail term for celebrities) after the group of ministers (GoM) decided to look at how other countries dealt with them. They either imposed a fine or ban (on celebrities) and so we decided to go for the same,” said Paswan.
As per the new proposal, if the producer is found responsible for misleading ads, the punishment would range from a fine to cancellation of license to a jail term, depending on the frequency of the offence.
Speaking on the controversy over cow vigilantism, Paswan said the PM has been clear from the beginning that there can’t be “goonda raj” in the name of cow protection. “What happened in Alwar (where a man was killed by cow vigilantes last week) was goonda-gardi (criminal act). Even an organisation like the RSS had to say this,” said the Lok Janshakti Party leader.
Amid speculation about the ruling NDA’s likely presidential candidate, Paswan said that there should be “one switch board” and in today’s context, it’s the PM. “He (Modi) knows the direction the country should take. He hasn’t said anything about Ram janmabhoomi or Babri Masjid or Article 370 (that gave special status to J&K),” said Paswan, referring to what once defined BJP’s ideological and political agenda.
The government’s latest move seems to be aimed at tackling the latter, but capping portion sizes in restaurants is not the only way. Here is a look at the measures adopted by other countries to curtail food wastage:
France has the strictest laws regarding food wastage at the retail-level. On February 4, 2016, the French national assembly unanimously voted to ban supermarkets from throwing unsold food that had not spoiled. The law stipulates that supermarkets must donate edible, unsold food to charities. Supermarkets are also barred from deliberately spoiling the food they dump — in some cases, supermarkets had resorted to bleaching food in order to prevent the poor from foraging from dustbins. Retailers in France now redistribute almost 100,000 tonnes to charity.
According to a 2015 National Resources Defense Council report, the US wastes 40% of the food it produces. If those losses could be brought down by just 15%, it would be enough to feed more than 25 million Americans every year.
The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, signed into law by Bill Clinton, encourages restaurants and supermarkets to donate food to nonprofits by minimising the donor’s liability. The act eases the process of donating unspoiled, still wholesome food to charities.
The US also passed the Federal Food Donation Act in 2008, which states that while awarding contracts for food purchases over valued at over $25,000, federal agencies must make provision for contractors to donate ‘apparently wholesome’ food to nonprofit organizations.
UK’s Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into food waste after figures showed that a whopping 8 million tonnes of food is wasted post-manufacture in Britain. In the UK, government subsidies make it cheaper for businesses to turn food into fertiliser rather than donating to the poor.
The UK Parliament is now considering a legislation to ban food waste, asking stakeholders including farmers and consumer groups to weigh in. Charity organisations such as The Real Junk Food Project have also stepped into this gap, by turning food meant for waste into meals for the poor.
In 2012, the German federal agriculture ministry started a “too good for the bin” initiative, where consumers could gain more information about when to throw away foods, and what the “best before date” (MHD) actually implied.
Some restaurants in Germany have also lead the way by asking patrons to pay extra if they do not finish the food on their plate. The rationale behind is it is to encourage people to order only how much they will eat, not how much they will throw away.
Scotland was able to reduce food wastage in restaurants through a simple solution — offering customers branded doggy bags so they could get leftover food packed. The ‘Good to Go’ scheme was piloted by Zero Waste Scotland, a government-funded organisation that aims to reduce waste,and within two years, more than 100 restaurants signed up for the programme. Restaurants that have adopted the scheme also ask consumers whether they want to change portion sizes or really order the side dishes.