Restaurants not liable when it comes to excess food donations

Too much wasted restaurant food ends up in trash bins and landfills

This interesting item appeared on E Magazine’s Earth Talk and with the holidays approaching, it’s a timely story.

Many restaurants and fast food places wind up with large amounts of wasted, uneaten food that they toss each day. They hesitate to donate  leftover food for fear of liability if someone should become ill from eating it later.

Congress stepped in to the issue in 1996 and passed the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, which exempts restaurants and other food-based organizations from any liability associated with the donation of food waste to nonprofits that support individuals in need. Donors are protected in all 50 states from civil and criminal liability for good faith donations of “apparently wholesome food”—defined as meeting “all quality and labeling standards imposed by Federal, State and local laws and regulations even though the food may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus or other condition.”

Whether the food goes to food banks, the elderly or to farmers who use it as compost for animals, it’s a win-win for everyone concerned.

It’s all a matter of education. So, with so many people in need this holiday season, if you know a restaurant that tosses their leftovers, you might suggest to them that they can make a difference this year. They’ll save money by lowering their trash removal costs and help some folks who could really use it.

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One Response

  1. I am just one person in utah looking to help. i believe that left over should be donated, and i would love to be the middle man. i want to start something here in Utah where i pick up the food and take it to shelters. i know there is regulations and riskd involved. but i am having a hard time finding any information. if you know anything or could send me in the right direction i would appreciate it.

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