China Passes Law to Prevent Food Waste, Increase Food Security

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series

Policy name: Chinese Food Waste Law

Overview: China has passed a law that will ban competitive eating and binge-eating videos and fine restaurant patrons who leave “excessive” leftovers.

Location: China

Population: 1.4 billion

Food policy category: Food waste prevention; food security

Program goals: To prevent food waste and improve food security.

How it works:

  1. Binge-eating videos will be banned. 
    a) Livestream videos of people binge-eating is a social media phenomenon called mukbang that began in South Korea and became increasingly popular and profitable in China as well. These videos often result in significant quantities of food being left uneaten or vomited. Anyone who distributes such a video will face a fine up to 100,000 yuan ($15,451).
  2. Competitive eating will be banned.
  3. Excessive leftovers will be banned.
    a) Restaurants will have the right to charge an extra fee to any patron who leaves excessive quantities of uneaten food.
    b) Vendors who deceive or mislead consumers into ordering excessive amounts of food could be charged up to 10,000 yuan ($1,547).
    c) Restaurants that consistently waste large quantities of food may be fined up to 50,000 yuan ($7,735).

Progress to date: After years of nationwide campaigns against food waste, a draft law was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on December 23, 2020. The law was officially approved on April 29, 2021.

Why it is important: The Chinese Academy of Sciences has reported that, in 2015, 17 to 18 million tons of food were wasted at the point of consumption in four of China’s biggest cities. That is enough to feed 50 million people per year.

As of 2019, approximately two billion people worldwide (26 percent of the world’s population) were experiencing moderate to severe food insecurity.

Reducing food waste is one method of helping to alleviate global food insecurity and hunger.

Program/Policy initiated: The law was passed on April 29, 2021.

Point of contact: N/A

Similar practices: China launched a Clean Plate Campaign in August 2020 that encouraged citizens to order less food at restaurants and to eat everything on their plates in order to reduce food waste. However, that campaign did not provide specific information about how to implement or enforce it.

Evaluation: The law has not been in effect long enough to evaluate it.

Learn more:


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