Charitable Donation of Food

A photograph of the BC legislature building on a sunny day.

I have heard rumours that it is “illegal” or “unlawful” to donate groceries or food that is beyond a best-buy date, or that there is a liability concern. This is incorrect.

British Columbia’s Food Donor Encouragement Act, SBC 1997 c 8  acts as a complete bar to liability for damages, injury, or death for those distributing food in good faith, and for directors, agents, and volunteers of a corporation that donates or distributes food.

The act is very brief — three sections, this post is probably longer — and provides protection unless the food was adulterated, rotten, or otherwise unfit for consumption; and the person donating or distributing the food intended injury or death or acted in reckless disregard for safety of others. This covers the majority of individuals donating and non-profits distributing.

This parallels legislation in other provinces, such as Alberta and New Brunswick.

Alberta’s act mirror’s BC’s, while the New Brunswick act is much longer and provides not only relief from damages, but from liability as well. It also removes the need for intention and sets the standard as any act or omission which constitutes gross negligence.

None of the acts apply to a person who distributes donated food for profit.

Photograph by +Jethro+ under a Creative Commons license.


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