Food Recovery at TOUCH
Also known as “food rescue,” food recovery takes unmarketable but still consumable food and redistributing it to those in need. Many municipalities throughout the country and the world are looking at implementing laws to make food rescue mandatory, including here in New York, because it saves municipal carting expenses and removes waste from the waste stream/landfills. Food rescue is a win-win initiative—providing food for the hungry while helping the environment while improving public health.
Rescued food is healthy, tasty, and nutritious! Food rescue contributes to a diet that tastes good and is good for the environment. The USDA states that even if the expiration date on your food item has passed, it should still be safe to eat if handled properly until the spoilage is evident. Those food date labels may not be as cut and dry as imagined: a “Best if Used By/Before” indicates best flavor or quality. It is not a safety date. Yet millions of pounds of food are wasted in the US every year because the public believes the sell-by date is a hard and fast rule that indicates the food is spoiled or dangerous. In the case of shelf-stable items, the foods are often safe months or years beyond the sell-by date. All the recently-expired food that TOUCH redistributes has been determined safe by the FDA. Learn more!
For Food Donors
FAQ ABOUT BECOMING A FOOD DONOR
Are there any potential tax incentives for me if my business donates food?
Internal Revenue Code 170(e)(3) provides enhanced tax deductions to businesses to encourage donations of fit and wholesome food to qualified nonprofit organizations serving the poor and needy. Qualified business taxpayers can deduct the cost to produce the food and half the difference between the cost and full fair market value of the donated food.
TOUCH will be happy to provide donors with an in-kind donation form to use for tax purposes for their donation.
Could I be liable if I donate food near its expiration date?
A number of federal and state laws encourage food donation in the United States by providing liability protections to donors or tax incentives.
The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, 42 U.S. Code § 1791 was created to encourage the donation of food and grocery products to qualified nonprofit organizations and provides liability protection to food donors. Under this Act, as long as the donor has not acted with negligence or intentional misconduct, the company is not liable for damage incurred as the result of illness. The 1996 Federal Emerson Act was intended to encourage donations of food and grocery products that meet quality and labelling standards imposed by federal, state and local laws and regulations, by protecting the donor and the recipient agency against liability, excepting in the case of gross negligence and/or intentional misconduct. Prior to passage of the Emerson Act differences in language and applicability between states often discouraged national and regional companies from donating, resulting in otherwise usable food being sent to landfills. Please refer to https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/PLAW-104publ210/pdf/PLAW-104publ210.pdf for more complete information.
New York State Law: Enacted 1981, Article 4‐D, Section 71‐2 71‐Z. This law covers liability for canned, perishable food or farm products distributed free of charge. Donors of canned or perishable food or farm product are not held liable unless they have actual knowledge that the food was tainted, contaminated or harmful. Please refer to https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/public/good-samaritan-laws.PDF for more complete information.
Can you give me some guidelines about donating food about to expire or just expired?
Pantry or shelf items can simply be boxed before we pick up.
Bread, Non-perishable foods/pantry items
- Stored in clean, dry, clean area in food grade packaging
Refrigerated or perishable items should be stored in the following conditions until we pick up:
Meat, Poultry, Seafood
- Store meat frozen at 0 degrees or below.
- • Green, black or iridescent meat is not safe to consume. Otherwise, meat color is influenced by many factors including exposure to oxygen and light, age of the animal, species, fat, and more.
- • Frozen meat is safe to consume if frozen from 3-6 months of sell-by date.
- Stored chilled below 40 degrees
- Stored chilled below 40 degree