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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 28, 2020 03:08 PM
From: Representative David H. Rowe
To: All House members
Subject: Limited Liability for Donating Food Past Recommended Label Codes
A key barrier to the donation of surplus food from individuals and businesses is the fear of liability if anyone were to fall ill from the donated food. While date labels on food are established by the manufacturer to indicate the best use-by date for purposes of freshness, many potential food donors misinterpret these labels as “expiration dates” or indicators of food safety. In Pennsylvania, the donation of food to nonprofit food recovery organizations is protected from limited civil and criminal liability through the Donated Food Limited Liability Act and a provision in Title 42. However, the donation of foods past their recommended label codes is not explicitly protected from liability.

I will soon introduce legislation very similar to HB 1999 that would expand the current immunity from civil and criminal liability to explicitly apply to the donation of food that has exceeded the manufacturer’s recommended label code date, but is still fit for human consumption. This clarification will correct the current misconception that donating “past-date” food will place the donor outside of liability protection.

By making small changes to the Donated Food Limited Liability Act, this legislation can provide a critical link between surplus food and the over 1.5 million people in Pennsylvania who are food insecure. This measure is especially important with the growing number of people who find themselves in need of charitable food assistance because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB2477