Millions of pounds of food and groceries go to waste each year. To encourage companies and organizations to donate healthy food that would otherwise go to waste, they are protected from criminal and civil liability under the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.
The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act
On October 1, 1996, President Clinton signed this act to encourage donation of food grocery products to non-profit organizations for distribution to individuals in need. It encourages the donation of food and grocery products to 501(c)3 non-profit organizations for distribution to needy individuals. The law protects all food and grocery donors, including individuals, corporations, partnerships, associations, governmental entities, wholesalers, manufacturers, retailers, farmers, gleaners and non-profit feeding program administrators who donate food and grocery products in good faith. While exceptions are noted for gross negligence, the law states that these groups will not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product.
What sort of donation is protected?
The Emerson Act provides protection for food and grocery products that meet all quality labeling standards imposed by federal, state and local laws and regulations. This includes products that may not be readily marketable due to age, appearance, freshness, grade, size, surplus or other conditions. Grocery products can include nonfood products, such as disposable paper or plastic products, household cleaning products, laundry detergent, personal care items, or miscellaneous household items.