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.

The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act

Public Law 104-210, signed in 1996

The law protects the donor and the recipient agency against liability, excepting only gross negligence and/or intentional misconduct. The law states that groups will not be subject to civil or criminal liability and specifically protects individuals, corporations, partnerships, organizations, associations, governmental entities, wholesalers, retailers, restaurateurs, caterers, farmers, gleaners, nonprofit agencies, and more.

This law:

  • Protects our donors from liability when you donate to a non-profit organization;
  • Protects our donors from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient;
  • Standardizes donor liability exposure across the 50 states; and
  • Defines “gross negligence” or intentional misconduct for persons who donate grocery products as “voluntary and conscious conduct by a person with knowledge (at the time of conduct) that the conduct is likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person.”



The text of the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act can be viewed here.