Can I Donate Food Past Best By Date?

Can I Donate Food Past Best By Date? Grocery store

Whether you want to donate or sell food that has passed its best-by date, you need to know your legal and ethical obligations. Here are some essential rules: Donate only edible foods, avoid perishable items, and adhere to labeling requirements.


If you have a surplus of food, it’s perfectly legal to donate food that has passed its best-by date. Many food banks and donation stations accept past-date food. In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed legislation that protects nonprofits from liability for past-date food donations. However, there are some ethical concerns regarding donating food that has passed its best-by date.

Food that has passed its best-by date may not be safe for consumption. Despite this risk, businesses are still inclined to discard it, citing a fear of a lawsuit. Meanwhile, the hunger crisis in California is growing – according to the USDA, one in eight residents and one in four children suffer from hunger. Despite this, no business has ever been sued for donating food, but many need help understanding their protections under the law.

If you are unsure whether it’s safe to donate food that has passed its use-by date, check with your local food bank or food salvage stores. You can also return the food to the store. But remember, it’s optional to use the date on the labels.

Donating food is legal under federal and state law. Donations that meet specific requirements are protected under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which provides limited liability protection to businesses, nonprofits, and charities. Moreover, Massachusetts’ Good Samaritan law offers additional protection to businesses.


A food donation program often faces a dilemma when handling expired food. In addition to the safety issues, it must also consider the ethical considerations of distributing the food. Foods that have passed their best-by dates may be unsafe for humans, but they can still be helpful to a food bank.

In a report released in 2017, the Natural Resources Defense Council called for better laws to protect food donors. They suggested that Congress delegate an executive agency to oversee the donation process and to pass legislation that explicitly protects past-date food donors. This is especially important because the date label on food indicates the item’s freshness. However, many people misread the dates and throw food away that is still edible.

Perishable foods

If you don’t want to throw away food due to its past best-by date, consider donating it to a food bank. Some food banks are lenient about this, while others are strict. For example, City Harvest in New York accepts non-frozen bread products past their sell-by date. The Utah Food Bank is much more lenient. It will take dairy products a few days past their sell-by date. However, you should avoid donating spoiled, tainted, or heavily damaged canned goods, as these can contain bacteria.

While most shelf-stable foods are safe indefinitely, some foods lose their nutrients when exposed to air or heat. For this reason, it is essential to follow food-handling guidelines to ensure the safety and quality of the food. Keeping food-preparation surfaces clean is also a good idea to avoid cross-contamination.

Many food manufacturers donate products past their “use by” date and put them on the market at a discount. Some of these foods are sold at bargain outlets or surplus grocery stores. The government should also provide more robust protection for food donors and establish strict guidelines about what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Donating past best-by-date perishable foods to food banks can be a great way to help the community and make a difference in the lives of many people in need. Often, people can’t afford staples and staple foods in their homes. In addition to pantry staples, food banks usually partner with companies, retailers, and other organizations to provide food for their network. This allows them to ensure their network can provide healthy, nutritious food year-round.

Donated food must meet federal and state labeling requirements and contain allergen warnings. It must also be separated from other types of food to protect people with allergies. In addition, foods donated past their best-by date must meet federal and state labeling requirements and be safe for human consumption.

Donating food is easy, but it is essential to know the best way to dispose of them. Donating may be unsafe if you’ve purchased a lot of canned or frozen food. Check the expiration dates of the food to the organization that will receive it. Some organizations don’t accept home-canned items, vacuum-packed foods, pickled foods, and perishable foods past the “use by” date. If you’re unsure, contact your local health department. They can help you donate food safely.

Labeling requirements

If you’re planning to sell or donate food past its best-by date, you must ensure that all foods are labeled correctly. Federal and state labeling regulations govern food donation labeling. Most items need to have allergen warnings and a date label. Foods with allergens should be labeled as such, and they should be stored separately from other food.

There are some restrictions on the amount of food you can donate. If you’re contributing food to a nonprofit organization, you have to make sure that you label it correctly. Canned foods, for example, retain their highest quality for 12-18 months. On the other hand, foods with low acidity will last two to five years. Food pantries and food banks must be aware of these dates and educate their customers about them. The Food Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard University have published fact sheets explaining how to make food donations safe.

Some food donation organizations only accept food donations by best-by date. This is partly due to their philosophy. They believe that people deserve good quality, nutritious food. Despite the date on a package, food donations past their best-by date are still usable and could help a needy household.

Food banks and food pantries receive millions of pounds of donated grocery products every year. These items come from manufacturers, growers, and consumers. However, the labels on these products can be confusing for volunteers and shoppers. The USDA estimates that 30 percent of food is wasted due to confusion about the date.

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