‘Mukbang' videos are now illegal as China bans food waste

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The internet’s “mukbang” trend is toast.

China has made the decision to outlaw overt gluttony in public and on social media, which also targets Chinese mukbangers who gorge on camera to the enjoyment of millions of culinary kink fans around the world. Legislators introduced the proposal late last year as part of President Xi Jinping’s campaign against food waste in China and around the world.

Censors have already removed such content from Chinese social media sites, Vice News has reported, such as TikTok’s Douyin, a video-sharing platform exclusively for Chinese users.

Under the new law, according to China’s congressional website, fines of up to 100,000 Chinese yuan (about $15,500) could be issued to media platforms and publishers who disseminate content featuring “large amounts of eating, overeating” and food waste otherwise.

Restaurants and catering groups which attempt to promote “or mislead consumers to order excessive meals and cause obvious waste” could face charges up to 10,000 yuan ($1,550), and businesses that “cause serious food waste in the process of food production” may be ordered to pay up to 50,000 yuan ($7,760).

Videos made by popular YouTubers from around the world typically feature huge platters or bowls of indulgent fare, all eaten with aplomb by charismatic food enthusiasts.

Businesses and food service providers are now taking steps to quash that which might be considered wasteful. One restaurant in Changsha, a city in Hunan province, now has a menu that features meal portions commensurate with the customers’ body weight, according to Vice, and even installed a scale at the entrance so diners could be certain where they weigh in.

Vice also reported on a bakery in Nanjing that was issued a citation for tossing misshapen or day-old pastries and breads, a common practice among bakeries to avoid the risk of selling stale baked goods.

While the owner promised to devise a way of donating the leftovers, such a move is often considered a legal liability in the US, should the food donation recipient happen to get sick.

However, some advocacy groups have begun devising ways to redistribute the staggering 94% of excess restaurant food that ends up in a dumpster, according to a 2020 report in the Counter.

Food waste is a major concern for the United Nations’ World Food Programme, which warned last year that food supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic was putting vulnerable communities at an even higher risk of malnutrition and starvation.

In 2019, the WFP launched the waste-reducing initiative Stop The Waste, reminding that one-third of all food globally ends up in the trash.

In the US alone, 66 million tons of food goes uneaten, according to the Department of Agriculture.

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