The BBC reports that China has stepped up measures to reduce food waste, after President Xi Jinping called the amount wasted “shocking and distressing”.
The “Clean Plate Campaign” comes after Mr Xi highlighted that Covid-19 had “sounded the alarm” on food waste.
He added that China had to “maintain a sense of crisis about food security”.
It also comes after weeks of mass flooding across southern China which left farms wrecked and ruined tons of produce.
Chinese state news agency the Global Times sought to downplay what it called “media hype” that China was headed for a food crisis, made worse by the epidemic.
Following Mr Xi’s message, the Wuhan Catering Industry Association urged restaurants in the city to limit the number of dishes served to diners – implementing a system where groups must order one dish less than the number of diners.
So under this system dubbed “N-1”, a group of 10 people can only order 9 dishes.
But it’s likely the system will take time to get adjusting to, in a country where it is seen as polite to order more than the amount needed.
In a group setting, empty plates are sometimes seen as a sign of a bad host – signifying that an insufficient amount of food was ordered for guests.