Almost every time we share how the FlashFood mobile app helps restaurants and volunteers coordinate rapid food donations, these are the first questions that come to our audience’s minds:
“Perishable food donations? That sounds risky. Can businesses be held liable for food donations if they make someone sick? Is perishable food donation even legal? How do you keep the food that you transport safe?”
These are legitimate concerns, so in this blog post, I will answer these questions and briefly touch on our strategies to mitigate the risks that come with transporting perishable food.
Question: is it legal to donate perishable food, and can food service businesses be held liable for food that makes someone sick?
In most countries around the world, donating perishable food is legal, and there are perishable food recovery initiatives doing great work across many nations. However, based on our research, the USA is the only country that has a written law protecting businesses that donate food from legal liability. The Federal “Good Samaritan Act” signed by President Clinton in 1996 eliminates liability from businesses that donate food in good faith that it is safe to be consumed. In the USA, businesses can also write off up to twice the cost of labor and ingredients used to prepare donated food. It’s a win-win situation; businesses help people, and save money on their taxes!
How do you keep the food that you transport safe?
We take food safety very seriously, and there are some important steps we are taking to ensure that the food we transport is safe to eat.
1. Every member of FlashFood has a food handler’s card. We also have an operations director who is dedicated to keeping FlashFood compliant on food safety standards.
2. All of the food that is transported will be kept in coolers or hot boxes to mitigate the risk of bacterial contamination, just like a catering company would use when driving food to an event.
3. We are also working with leading food recovery non-profits, including the international organization Food Donation Connection and Phoenix based organization WasteNOT, to develop an easy to understand training module to teach our volunteers how to safely transport donated food. Every volunteer will be required to complete this online module to help transport donated food and have the proper food handler’s card for their county or city of residence.
If you have any questions about food safety or food recovery in general, leave us a comment!