If you have food that has passed its “best before” date, there are several places you can donate it. However, it would help if you were cautious about donating rotten, moldy, or visibly spoiled food. It is also not a good idea to donate food that is not labeled as “expired,” or that is damaged. In addition, you should be aware of the legalities of donating out-of-date food.
Visibly spoiled, rotten, or moldy food shouldn’t be donated.
While donating food can help reduce waste and help the needy, the federal government needs to provide more guidelines for food quality before it is accepted. These guidelines would ensure that less edible food is wasted and more food gets diverted to needy households. Therefore, you should think twice before you donate food.
Don’t donate food that is spoiled, rotten, or mold-ridden. While the law protects food donors from liability, there are some instances where you shouldn’t donate food. For example, if you donate food to a food pantry, you should never donate expired, spoiled, or moldy food.
Food with damaged packaging
Donating out-of-date food with damaged packaging is an increasingly popular option for consumers concerned about food waste. Many major retailers may discard food that is past its expiration date or has damaged packaging. These items may have harmful bacteria or be contaminated. If you think you might be able to donate these items, consider contacting your local food bank.
Food that is not labeled “expired.”
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American throws out nearly a pound of food every day. The reasons vary from picky kids to overstocked pantries to leftovers that have sat too long in the fridge. One of the biggest causes of wasted food is misinterpreting expiration dates on labels. A recent study by the group found that nearly 90% of consumers do not correctly read expiration dates, causing a large amount of food to end up in the garbage or the landfill.
There are several different types of date labels on food. The use-by date is a suggested date by which the food may be eaten, but it is not necessarily a safety date. Another type of date label is “sell-by,” which specifies when the food can be displayed in a store. On the other hand, a “freeze-by” date indicates when food should be placed in the freezer.
The National Science Foundation defines expiration and “use-by” dates. These labels are mandatory in 40 states. In addition, infant formula is required to include a “use-by” date. Manufacturers can ensure its quality and nutrient content by putting a use-by date on the product.
While food that has passed its best-by date is still safe to eat, it may be lower quality. It may have a poor smell, texture, or taste. But it is still safe to use and is often suitable for cooking and baking.
Federal law does not require food manufacturers to put expiration dates on the labels, though Arizona requires them on infant formula. These dates are a guide to freshness and quality and are vital to the health of infants. Many foods are good beyond the use-by and sell-by dates, but manufacturers often include a “do not use after” date on the back of the label to warn consumers of harmful or ineffective use.
Some food producers routinely date their products, regardless of their destination. While the dates on food products are ambiguous, medical dates are evident and regulated. The FDA regulates prescription drugs, and manufacturers must datestamped labels to alert consumers of their expiration dates. This is important to consumers because the manufacturer believes the product is safe and stable. However, once the packaging is opened, the manufacturer’s liability ends.
The legality of donating out-of-date food
You may wonder about the legality of donating out-of-date food to nonprofit organizations. The truth is that these organizations are permitted to accept this type of food. The law protects them under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, which President Bill Clinton signed in 1996.
Under the law, donations made to food facilities are protected from liability if they comply with state and federal laws. The Act also protects individuals, businesses, and gleaners who make good-faith food donations. These protections may help the recipients of donated food utilize perishable food quickly and efficiently.
Donating food is legal in most cases. Federal and state laws generally protect businesses and nonprofits. For example, the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act provides limited liability protection for nonprofit organizations and donors of grocery products. Further, Massachusetts’ Good Samaritan law provides additional protection for businesses in the state. Therefore, donating food is an excellent way to help those in need.
The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects businesses that donate food by removing liability if they present it in good faith. Various types of companies are protected under the law, including grocers, wholesalers, hotels, and manufacturers. Further information about the law is available in 42 U.S. Code SS 1791.