About 80 percent of cinemas ban moviegoers from taking certain foods or beverages into movie theaters. One even has a list of 69 forbidden food items, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.
According to regulations issued by the Government Information Office, cinemas are not allowed to ban food purchased from outside, with the exception of food considered a choking threat and food that is too spicy or pungent. The list includes hot soup and food that makes a loud noise when eaten.
The regulations also stipulate that cinemas cannot prohibit -moviegoers from consuming food sold by the theater itself or charge a clean-up fee for those who bring their own food.
However, the foundation said a survey of 15 cinemas across the nation conducted between the end of last month and Wednesday last week revealed that 12 cinemas restricted food purchased elsewhere and several had an overly long list of banned foods.
The foundation said it received a complaint from a consumer during the Lunar New Year holiday period, saying that staff prevented him from entering a movie theater because he was carrying a donut that he was told was classified as a “fried food.”
Among the 12 theaters with restrictions, the SBC cinema in Jhongli (中壢), Taoyuan County, banned 69 food items, including tangerines, pudding, jelly, red bean wheel cakes and food that makes a noise when opening the package, such as shredded dry squid and jerky, the foundation said.
The foundation said the Ambassador Theater in Taipei’s Breeze Center listed 40 food items as prohibited, including such unclear categories as “desserts,” “iced food” and “fruit with seeds.”
Moreover, the cinema prohibits moviegoers from eating hamburgers or French bread sandwiches in movie theaters, even though it sells hot dogs and bagel sandwiches, the foundation said.
Banned food items in other cinemas that seemed questionable included “canned or bottled drinks,” “hot food” and hard-boiled eggs, the foundation said, adding that listing so many foods could cause confusion or result in moviegoers not bringing food.
The foundation urged cinemas to consider the rights of -moviegoers and be more accepting of individual food preferences. It also called on the government to pay more attention to the issue.