China to stop food waste with legislation, crackdown on eating shows

By Ji Yuqiao and Cao Siqi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/8/13 18:08:41

An anchor on short video platform Douyin displays preparing food to netizens while eating crayfish on June 6. Several domestic popular short video platforms vowed to regulate shows that feature competitive eating. Photo: IC. Photo: IC

 After Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the establishment of a long-term mechanism to stop the waste of food, China's top legislature announced on Thursday that it is discussing related legislation. Meanwhile, several domestic popular short-video platforms vowed to regulate livestreaming shows that feature competitive eating.

 The current laws have articles intended to stop waste, but there's no strong unified measures to deal with the problem, Zhang Guilong, member of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said on Thursday. The top legislature will add more specific articles in related laws and enact more specific provisions.

A spokesperson from the public relations department of short-video platform Douyin told the Global Times on Thursday that the platform has taken measures to rectify livestreaming eating shows.

The spokesperson said that when users search for key terms such as "eating show" or "competitive eater", they will be informed to value food, and the platform will penalize those videos.

Other social media platforms including Kuaishou, Douyu and Sina Weibo made similar statements, promising to strengthen content reviews.

A statement that Kuaishou sent to the Global Times on Thursday said the platform will seriously deal with videos containing excessive eating and drinking, and videos that feature fake eating and vomiting will be deleted and their accounts will be shut down.

Recently, to attract attention, some vloggers performed on short-video platforms pretending to be competitive eaters. Although they ordered large amounts of food, they left much uneaten and often spit out what they had consumed.

Such shows have been condemned by many netizens and generated heated discussions on Sina Weibo. The related hashtag had been viewed more than 830 million times as of Thursday afternoon. 

A big eating show, or mukbang in Korean,  is an online audiovisual show in which a vlogger consumes large quantities of food while interacting with the audience. These shows originated in South Korea and have become a worldwide trend.

Some big eaters in such shows with millions of followers can earn more than 300,000 yuan ($43,000) for one show from restaurants by eating enough food for 50 people, so mukbang host has become a hot job, media reported.

But some hosts are faking it. They gulp down food in front of the camera, but vomit immediately outside of the camera range, and edit the videos to make audiences believe they really eat all of food.

Although eating shows can bring huge profits to the hosts, the job also impairs their health. One host of big eating show surnamed Wang, 30, in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, died in June while preparing to broadcast. Wang's weight jumped from 100 kilograms to 140 kilograms within just half a year.

China has launched a "Clean Plate Campaign 2.0" to put a stop to food waste. The Campaign 1.0 was launched in 2013 which has effectively curbed officials' extravagant feasts and receptions. Statistics from 2015, the latest that are available, showed that food wasted in China's catering industry amounted to 93 grams per person per meal, 11.7 percent of a total meal.

In 2015, China's urban catering industry wasted 17 to 18 million tons of food, enough to feed 30 to 50 million people for a year, state broadcaster CCTV reported. 

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