Laws Protect Food Donors


At, food safety is our #1 priority. And the U.S. and Califonia governments provide added security for our food donors: federal and state laws that protect food donors from liability when donating food to nonprofit organizations.

The Food Donation Act of 2017

This Act, passed by the U.S. Congress, expands the liability protections of the Bill Emerson Act (see below), including explicitly stating that the donation of perfectly safe, past-date foods is protected from liability. 

Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act

The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was passed by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996.

As noted by Feeding America, our nation’s network of 200 food banks, the law:

The law was enacted to encourage organizations to donate healthy food — food that would otherwise go to waste — to non-profit organizations that serve individuals in need.

You can find a Legal Guide to the Act here. The Guide's authors conclude, after an exhaustive search of U.S. case law, that no lawsuit related to donated food has ever been filed in U.S. history.

California Good Samaritan Food Donation Act

On October 10, 2017, Governor Brown signed California's Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, AB1219, into law. Following on to, and strengthening, the protections provided by the federal Act (above), among AB 1219's provisions are:

The bill text is here.

California Health and Safety Code

The California Health and Safety Code, Sections 114432-114434, states the following:

California Civil Code

Section 1714.25 of the California Civil Code contains the following:

California Food and Agricultural Code

As referred to in Section 114434 of the Health and Safety Code above, Chapter 5 of Part 1 of Division 21 of the California Food and Agricultural Code contains the following:

* Note that “agricultural product” is defined as: “any fowl, animal, vegetable, or other stuff, product, or article which is customary food, or which is proper for food for human beings.”

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Marin Community Foundation County of Marin The San Francisco Foundation