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:

  • Protects food donors from liability when donating to a non-profit organization;

  • Protects food donors from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient;

  • Standardizes donor liability exposure. Food donors and their legal counsels 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 law, gross negligence is defined 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 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.