Charging Diners For Eyes Bigger Than Bellies

Paying for eyes bigger than belly. Credit: Image by Freepik

An X (Twitter) user posted a photo of a restaurant sign warning of additional charges to the bill for customers whose eyes proved to be bigger than their bellies

The sign, posted by @soycamarero who is the author of ‘I’m a waiter. The customer is not always right’, advised customers that, “Leftover food on your plate is not included in the standard price. If you waste food, we will charge at least €5 additional to your bill.” Soy Camarero asked, “What do you think of this?”

His post has gained over 800 responses so far, and it seems that most are supportive of the €5 charge in one particular circumstance; the all-you-can-eat buffet. A number of people replying said that they had seen similar signs in ‘free buffet’ restaurants and felt it was a good idea to deter greedy people from over-filling their plates and then not eating it all.

@Ninipd said, “In a buffet it seems fine to me, elsewhere at least you have to leave the option to take it home. If you are like me who can’t eat too much (sometimes too little, since there are things I don’t process well) you should be given that option.”

Another X user, @scolar64, said, “In a buffet it seems to me correct and even necessary.”

@sulako22 relayed a similar initiative they knew of, “In a Japanese restaurant near my house they have something similar. It is an open buffet and people ordered without any reason. Until they said that they would charge 20% more if there was a lot of food left over after ordering the crazy things they ordered. It had an effect!”

Food Waste Is A Global Problem

Mound of rotting food
Food wastage. Credit: Image By stockgiu

The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) reports that one third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. Discarded food is defined in two ways, as food loss and food waste. Loss covers food that is lost from harvest through to production and waste covers food that is discarded from the point of retail onwards, including what is thrown out by households or food service establishments.

Other than the obvious disequilibrium of wasting a commodity that significant parts of the world are desperately in need of, food ending up in landfill is terrible for the environment. The EUFIC reports that if food waste were a country it would be the third highest greenhouse gas emitting one in the world. Only China and the US produce more greenhouse gasses than our global food waste.

Spain’s Response To Food Waste

During 2020, Spanish households threw away an average of 31 kilos of food per person at a cost to each person of some 250 euros a year. The EU reports that a further 2.1 million tonnes was thrown away by restaurants and food service. In total a staggering 91 kilos of food per person is wasted a year when calculating waste at every point of the supply chain.

Spain has moved to tackle the food waste crisis with legislation aimed at meeting its obligations under the EU Directive on waste. The legislation commits to reduce food waste generation by 50 per cent per person at the household and retail consumption level and 20 per cent in production and supply chain level. Initiatives in the legislation include fines for supermarkets and restaurants who throw away food and the mandatory offering of doggy bags for customers to take home left-overs.

Should All-You-Can-Eat Restaurants Charge Diners Extra For Leftovers?

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Written by

Emma Mitchell

Emma landed in journalism after nearly 30 years as an executive in the Internet industry. She lives in Bédar and her interests include raising one eyebrow, reckless thinking and talking to people randomly. If you have a great human interest story you can contact her on