Continuing the push for more food waste legislation, United States Congress Representatives Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and James P. McGovern (D-MA) introduced The Food Donation Act of 2017 (H.R. 952) earlier this month. The bill amends The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (the Emerson Act), which was passed in 1996 to encourage food donation by offering protection from liability to those who donate food in good faith.
At its core, The Food Donation Act of 2017 updates and expands the Emerson Act's liability protections to better align with today's food waste and recovery landscape. It also charges the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with implementing, enforcing, and promoting the Emerson Act, as this responsibility was never assigned to a federal agency upon the bill's implementation in 1996.
Here is a list of the key updates included The Food Donation Act of 2017:
- Designates the USDA as the executive agency in charge of the Emerson Act
- Adds liability protections for businesses that sell surplus food at reduced prices
- Protects donations from foodservice and retail operations made directly to recipients
- Protects donations of food that is mislabeled in a non-safety-related capacity
- Protects donations of food that is "past-date" but safe to eat
Given the significant concerns held by manufacturers, restaurants, and retailers with respect to donating food, The Food Recovery Act of 2017 is poised to make a major positive impact on the food recovery landscape in the United States.