No Donor Liability!

Some food businesses hesitate to donate food out of fear that, should the recipient become ill from the food, the donor could be held responsible. In 2017, effective January 1, 2018, the California legislature passed the “Good Samaritan Food Donation Act” (AB 1219), which amended the 1988 “Russell Bill” to provide even greater protection from liability for anyone who donates excess food to a nonprofit charitable organization or food bank.  A copy of the full bill can be found here:

Below is a brief description of the bill:

The prior law specified that a food facility or a wholesale processor of food that donated any food fit for human consumption at the time it was donated to a nonprofit charitable organization or a food bank would not be liable for any damage or injury resulting from the consumption of the donated food, unless the injury resulted from negligence or a willful act in the preparation or handling of the donated food.   The new law adds “persons and gleaners” to the protected group of donors, eliminating any requirement that the donor be regulated by the state.  It also deletes “negligence” as an exception, so that donors are protected unless the injury results from “gross negligence or intentional misconduct.“

It should be noted that California law now follows a similar “Model Good Samaritan Food Donation Act” that was passed by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States and was signed into law in 1996. The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects any good-faith donor of apparently wholesome food to a non-profit organization from civil or criminal liability, except for gross negligence or willful misconduct. For a copy of the law, visit:

Food donated to Food Runners is transported as quickly as possible to various food programs and shelters to ensure freshness and appeal. Fear of liability need not prevent donating to Food Runners.

For a more detailed information, please download this summary handout and chart.