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FOOD & DRINK

Swiss restaurant fines customers who don’t finish food

A restaurant in the Swiss canton of Aargau has started fining people for not finishing their food, although the motive isn't purely profiteering.

Is fining people a good way to stop food waste? Photo by Ulysse Pointcheval on Unsplash
Is fining people a good way to stop food waste? Photo by Ulysse Pointcheval on Unsplash

“Casanova” Indian restaurant in the town of Baden, Aargau, charges a ‘fine’ of five francs — in addition to the bill — to customers who leave food on their plate.

The reason for doing so however is not a typical example of Swiss profiteering – and only applies to those who choose the all-you-can-eat buffet option. 

The owner, Salman Ghauri, grew up in India where a large part of the population doesn’t have enough to eat, said he wanted to remind people how good they have it.

Cost of living: How to save on groceries in Switzerland

“Food is precious in India, we don’t throw it away”, Ghauri told Swiss media, encouraging the Swiss to avoid food waste. 

In his restaurant, he serves an all-you-can-eat buffet for 20 francs, but some people pile up more food onto their plates than they can consume, and uneaten food ends up in trash.

This is why Ghauri decided charge a ‘penalty’ of anyone who doesn’t finish the food — a concept he says most of his customers support.

Ghauri, who has lived in Switzerland for 20 years, said the fine might encourage people to think a little more about what they put on their plate. 

“Some people also leave their plate half full and go back to the buffet to try another dish.”

Ghauri said that while the Swiss learn as children to eat what is served on their plates “as adults we tend to leave that aside”. 

“I find our concept good and I fully support it”. 

Member comments

  1. I applaud this restaurant owner for what he is doing. I hate to see food wasted for all the reasons. Especially now with wars, Climate Crisis, inflation, all the economic suffering of actually most people in the world, wasting food seems morally and spiritually wrong. I also hate how some people behave at buffets, it is weird, and why I avoid them. I wish this guy good luck. And I also appreciate that The Local covered this story. Thank you!

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For members

SWISS CHEESE

How Switzerland is protecting its cheeses from foreign influence

Neutral Switzerland has not been involved in any foreign wars for centuries, but lately the country has been doing battle over its cheese.

How Switzerland is protecting its cheeses from foreign influence

Makers of the country’s iconic Emmental and Gruyère cheeses have been locked in legal battles to protect their product from inferior foreign imitations. 

Named after the Bern’s Emmental valley where it is produced, the Emmental cheese has a distinctly mild and nutty taste and is also the only Swiss cheese with holes, which “range from the size of cherries to the size of nuts and are formed during the maturation process”, according to Switzerland Cheese Marketing board.

In Switzerland, the Emmental is protected by an AOP — Appellation d’Origine Protégée, which means the product is entirely made in its region of origin.

This label also means the cheese must meet strict criteria, such as the size of the holes, which should ideally be between two and four centimetres in diameter.

However, the Emmental is also made in France and Germany, but Swiss producers claim foreign cheese does not meet the same exacting standards and has little to do with the original recipe.

They have been fighting for years for better protection of the brand manufactured and sold outside Switzerland, but to avail: the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled that “Emmental” doesn’t designate the geographical origin of the product, but only a certain type of cheese with holes.

This decision really cheesed the Swiss off and they filed a complaint against EUIPO’s decision with the General Court of the European Union, which will begin deliberations in September.

READ MORE: Ten varieties of cheese you should be able to identify if you live in Switzerland

However, the Emmental is not the only Swiss cheese caught up in an international legal tangle; Gruyère suffered a similar fate.

An American court ruled in January 2022 that ‘Gruyere cheese’ does not have to be made in the Gruyères region — or even in Switzerland, for that matter —in order to bear the name. 

Swiss cheesemakers said they would appeal the US ruling, but in the meantime the verdict grates on their nerves.

“Gruyère represents a centuries-old traditional recipe, and a region of Switzerland,” an angry Philippe Bardet, director of the Association of Swiss Gruyère Producers, told Switzerland’s Blick newspaper.

“When consumers buy a Gruyère in the United States, they have no idea what awaits them”, he said. “Does the cheese have holes? What milk was it made with?”

Bardet pointed out that Swiss Gruyère producers use only raw milk from cows that eat natural food  — pasture grass in summer and hay in winter .

But in  America, “they use cheap milk”, he said. 

READ MORE: Why are Swiss angry with Americans about Gruyere cheese?

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