Millions of pound 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. Additional information is available at the University of Arkansas law notes..
The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act
On October 1, 1996, President Clinton signed this act to encourage donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations for distribution to individuals in need. This law:
- Protects you from liability when you donate to a non-profit organization;
- Protects you from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient;
- Standardizes donor liability exposure. You or your legal counsel do not need to investigate liability laws in 50 states; and
- Sets a floor of “gross negligence” or intentional misconduct for persons who donate grocery products. According to the new law, gross negligence is defined as “voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of conduct) that the conductis likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person.”
The text of the bill itself follows:
The Bill Emerson Food Donation Act
One Hundred Fourth Congress of the United States of America
At the Second Session
Begun and held at the City of Washington on Wednesday, the third day of January, one thousand nine hundred and ninety-six.
(Original US Government Printing Office text here)
To encourage the donation of food and grocery products to nonprofit organizations for distribution to needy individuals by giving the Model Good Samaritan Food Donation Act the full force and effect of law.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
Section 1. CONVERSION TO PERMANENT LAW OD MODEL GOOD SAMARITAN FOOD DONATION ACT AND TRANSFER OF THAT ACT TO CHILD NUTRITION ACT OF 1966.
(a) Conversion to Permanent Law. — Title IV of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 is amended —
1. by striking the title heading and sections 401 and 403 (42 U.S.C. 12671 and 12673); and
2. in section 402 (42 U.S.C. 12672) —
(A) in the section heading, by striking “model” and inserting “bill emerson”
(B) in subsection (a), by striking “Good Samaritan” and inserting “Bill Emerson Good Samaritan:”
(C) in subsection (b)(7), to read as follows:
“(7) GROSS NEGLIGENCE. — The term ‘gross negligence’ means voluntary and conscious conduct (including a failure to act) by a person who, at the time of the conduct, knew that the conduct was likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person.”;
(D) by striking subsection (c) and inserting the following:
“(c) LIABILITY FOR DAMAGES FROM DONATED FOOD AND GROCERY PRODUCTS.
“(1) LIABILITY OF PERSON OR GLEANER. — A person or gleaner shall 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 that the person or gleaner donates in good faith to a nonprofit organization for ultimate distribution to needy individuals.
“(2) LIABILITY OF NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION. — A nonprofit organization shall 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 that the nonprofit organization received as a donation in good faith from a person or gleaner for ultimate distribution to needy individuals.
“(3) EXCEPTION. — Paragraphs (1) and (2) shall not apply to an injury to or death of an ultimate user or recipient of the food or grocery product that results from an act or omission of the person, gleaner or nonprofit organization, as applicable, constituting gross negligence or intentional misconduct.”; and
(E) in subsection (f), by adding at the end the following: “Nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede State or local health regulations.”.
(b) TRANSFER TO CHILD NUTRITION ACT OF 1966. — Section 402 of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12762) (as amended by subsection (a))
1. is transferred from the National and Community Service Act of 1990 to the Child Nutrition Act of 1966;
2. is redesignated as section 22 of the Child Nutrition Act of 1966; and
3. is added at the end of such Act.
(c) CONFORMING AMENDMENT. — The table of contents for the National and Community Service Act of 1990 is amended by striking the items relating to title IV.
Speaker of the House of Representatives
President of the Senate Pro Tempore
William J. Clinton
President of the United States