Ethical Issues

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Ethics in food and beverage management is an important area
and one that could easily be the focus of another book. Here, the
reader is directed towards two issues that are current and will
probably continue to be so in the next few years. Ethical food
production and a debate on ethics in tipping practises.

Ethics and food produce
Restaurants may offer in their menu items that are controversial
due to the way they are produced and the effect that these techniques
have on the living animals. For example, foie gras is a
French delicacy where geese are forced fed corn mash through a
tube that is placed in the animal ’ s oesophagus. The result is
an enlarged liver with a number of possible negative effects.
A number of countries such as Denmark, Italy and Germany
have banned force feeding whilst the EU is currently considering
a ban on foie gras. Another example is that of white crated
veal were calves are confi ned in veal crates no bigger than 2 ft
wide, and the animals cannot turn or move at all or see day
light in order to produce veal of a pale coloured fl esh, which is
effectively the product of induced borderline anaemia. Other
examples can include the use of types of fi sh that are extremely
depleted or fi sh that is caught in a way that harms other animals
such as dolphins. The list of examples of menu items that are
used in the industry can be a long one and although information
is abundant about those types of produce we fi nd that still operators
continue to feature such items in their menus. The debate
as to whose responsibility it is as to whether such food items
should be consumed continues. Is it the restaurant manager who
should claim responsibility and should not use such products or
is it the consumer who should refrain from buying such items?
Food and beverage management is about man aging the operation
effectively and ensuring not only the short-term viability of
the operation but also its long-term one. Logic would dictate that
utilizing sustainable methods of food production would protect
the long-term effi ciency of the business. So it makes sense from a
business point of view to be an ethical food and beverage manager.
But even if the benefi ts are not that great it is the responsibility
of both the consumer and the food and beverage operator
to ensure they have the knowledge of where their food or beverage
comes from and how it was produced. Food and beverage
managers do not just sell food and beverages but an experience,
so educating their customers can also become part of that experience
enabling such operators to have an innovative advantage
such as in the case study of the Acorn House Restaurant in
other threads.

Ethics in tipping
For many years numerous writers have proposed theories about
the differences between a service and a product. The nature of
the tangible and intangibles in service, the perishability of services
and the need for the recipient of the service to be present
at the time of delivery are just a few. We also know that many
products have an element of service and many services have a
product attached so how in these situations do we determine
whether we are primarily receiving a service or simply acquiring
a product? One answer to this, and the basis of a clear ethical
debate, is whether or not we are required to give a gratuity.
This view about whether we are primarily buying services
or products is more complex than it looks at fi rst glance. For
example, if we go to the supermarket and buy our groceries the
cashier will put all the items through the scanner and offer to
pack them for you or get an assistant to pack them, you pay the
bill and leave, there is no notion of giving either the cashier or
the packer a gratuity. If however you buy these same groceries
‘ online ’ do you give the delivery driver a gratuity?
Consider then the situation in a restaurant. It is perfectly legal
to charge for service, provided it is clearly stated on the menu
and customers are aware that a percentage will be added to the
cost of their meal as a service charge. However what the customer
cannot do in this circumstance is not avail themselves of
the service. In other words you cannot serve yourself and avoid
this additional charge.
The question therefore hinges on whether you believe that it
is ethical to be required to pay a gratuity for receiving a service
that is an integral part of the product on offer (i.e. the meal).
In addition many will argue that without such a gratuity system
service would not be as good or as effi cient, that in fact the
promise of a gratuity somehow motivates staff to do their job
properly. Consider going into a self-service cafeteria, you may
look at the menu to check the choice available and glance at the
prices to see if they are acceptable. The prices will be fully inclusive
of all costs including staffi ng and an element of profi t. The
price charged would be generally lower than that charged in a
serviced restaurant, partly because of the product range but also
staff costs will be lower and you are not normally expected to tip
the counter staff, although occasionally you do see a dish with
small change by the cash desk that is an invitation to tip. So, if a
serviced restaurant includes higher staffi ng costs amongst other
things in its pricing then why is it necessary to add an additional
charge for service because without the service you would not
be able to avail yourself of the product. Consider also the wording
that appears on some menus concerning gratuities listed in
(Table - A cynical view of menu terminology) with some suggested
euphemisms for how they are worded.

Table 12.1 A cynical view of menu terminology
Menu wording Possible euphemism
Service is not included We expect you to add at least 10% to your
bill as a gratuity
Service is at the customers discretion Don’t be too discreet leave at least 10%
A service charge of 12.5% will be We want to be sure that when everyone in
added to parties of eight or more your party pays separately we still get a
decent tip
For your convenience a 15% service This allows us to attract you with lower charge will be added to your bill menu prices without it affecting profi tability

One area of hospitality where the gratuity culture is essential to
the income of service staff is the cruise ship industry. Most shipping
companies whether merchant or passenger sail under what
are termed ‘ Flags of Convenience ’ (FOC) which means they fl y
a fl ag of a country other than the country of ownership. Whilst
most of the problems associated with this practice are concerned
with merchant vessels, the International Transport Workers
Federation (ITWF) also cite a number of related diffi culties for
the staff that work on passenger ships including cruise ships. The
ITWF suggest that in addition to tax advantages FOC allow cruise
ships to employ cheap labour on minimal wages with very basic
living and working conditions. Whilst this is not true of all cruise
ship companies, Seabourn Cruises, for example, have banned
tipping and instead offer employees a revenue/profi t sharing
scheme together with a reasonable salary, but there are a number
that still rely heavily on passenger gratuities. In most cases these
are administered by the pursers desk onboard the ship. Each passenger
’ s account has a fi xed gratuity added each day of the cruise
as a gratuity for the stateroom (room) attendant. Norwegian
Cruise Lines (NCL) for example, charges $10 per day for each
passenger aged thirteen or over and $5 per day for those below
this age. Royal Caribbean provides vouchers for each passenger
printed with prepaid amounts for all service staff other than
bartenders. Passengers simply give each of the staff, stateroom
attendant, waiter, wine waiter, headwaiter, etc. a signed voucher.
Bar drinks are charged to the room account and include a service
charge of 20%. Different cruise lines adopt different methods but
all allow lower basic wages to be paid, in some cases as low as
$50 per month.

The issue of gratuities will continue to raise debate, some staff
see gratuities as a right, some customers feel service staff are just
too attentive and somewhat insincere. For managers managing a
service where an integral part of the staff income is derived from
gratuities there are both practical and ethical issues from deciding
whether to be involved at all in the distribution of gratuities
to what shifts or work patterns you should allocate to which
staff as these may have a bearing on the earning potential. Is a
gratuity system the correct way to pay hospitality service staff in
the 21st century or will legislation on minimum wages will see
gratuities phased out?
In a recent article Tipping and Its Alternatives Michael Lynn (2006),
Associate Professor of consumer behaviour in Cornell ’ s Hotel
School, considers both sides of the argument of conventional tipping,
service charges and service inclusive menu pricing. Lynn ’ s research
reveals that 44% of respondents say they would prefer higher wages
for waiting staff to tipping but also 69% say they do not dislike
tipping. In addition, his research fi nds ‘ only a tiny correlation
between tip size and customer evaluation of service or dining experience,
and points to several potential negative consequences of
tipping. These include servers ’ giving less attention to persons stereotyped
as poor tippers (including African Americans, the elderly,
foreigners, teens and others); servers inclination to provide free food
and or services in expectation of higher tips; and servers ’ inclinations
to focus only on guests at their tables ’ .

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