The most common question we get asked is: Am I liable if someone gets ill from my donated food?

The answer is definitively no. In fact, Congress has twice passed Acts (in 1990 and 1996) that specifically protect donors who donate food in good faith. This was done to encourage the donation of food and grocery products to non-profit organizations without the fear of liability.

The original enactment in 1990 of the Model Good Samaritan Food Donation Act by Congress (Title IV of the National and Community Service Act) was later amended and signed into law on October 1, 1996 by President Bill Clinton as the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (“Food Donation Act”).

The Food Donation Act supports and encourages the donation of food and grocery product by:

  • Protecting food donors from any civil or criminal liability when donating food in good faith to a non-profit organization for the distribution to needy individuals
  • Protecting non-profit organizations from civil or criminal liability arising from a good faith donation for distribution to needy individuals
  • Protecting good faith donations from any liability arising from “the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently wholesome food or an apparently fit grocery product” even if the food “may not be readily marketable due to appearance, age, freshness, grade, size, surplus, or other conditions.”

To access the Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, click here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/1791