Helping Businesses Reduce Hunger and Waste


Liability Protection

Federal and Oregon laws protect you from liability when you donate food in good faith.


The Good Samaritan laws were specifically designed to protect you, the donor. Donors who provide food in good faith are protected by both state and federal Good Samaritan laws that encourage donation of needed foods and protect donors.


In brief, the Oregon Good Samaritan laws (ORS Chapter 30.890 and 30.892) and the Federal Good Samaritan law (The Bill Emerson Food Donation Act) state that you cannot be held liable if you have donated food you believe to be safe and edible.


Oregon laws state that gleaners or good-faith donors of any food, apparently fit for human consumption, shall not be subject to criminal penalty or civil damages arising from the condition of the food, unless injury is caused by the gross negligence, recklessness or intentional misconduct of the donor. For information on the Good Samaritan laws, contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture, at 503-986-4720.


The federal act protects donors from liability when they donate to a nonprofit organization. It also standardizes donor liability across the nation and sets a liability floor of "gross negligence" or intentional misconduct for donated goods.


Note: Fork It Over! and Community Environmental Services are not providing legal advice and no person should rely on this information as legal advice. An entity considering food donation should consult its own legal counsel with any concerns about liability.


Safe Handling

Food banks also protect their donors by enforcing strict standards of warehouse operation, proper storage and handling procedures, complete product tracking and recall capabilities, and accurate and timely receipting.


Since your staff is knowledgeable about safe food handling, it is unlikely that you will need to provide much additional training to ensure safe donation practices. For information about proper food handling, contact the Oregon Department of Human Services, Oregon Health Authority, Foodborne Illness Prevention Program, at 971-673-0451 or online.


For additional resources: