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Pingree kicks off her efforts to reduce food waste in 115th Congress

Cosponsors legislation to modernize food donation liability protections; will reintroduce her own food waste bills in coming weeks

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree has kicked off her efforts in the new Congress to reduce food waste.  She is an original cosponsor of a bipartisan bill, The Food Donation Act of 2017, introduced yesterday by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge to modernize food donation protections, and plans to reintroduce two food waste bills in the coming weeks. 

“Food waste in America is a staggering problem that costs consumers billions of dollars, causes environmental harm, and worsens food insecurity. But it also represents an incredible opportunity,” said Pingree.  “Much of the food that is wasted is still perfectly good to eat, but doesn’t get to the people who need it.  One reason is that manufacturers, restaurants, and retailers have liability fears about donating excess food.  As I continue to push strategies for reducing food waste, I’m proud to support the commonsense changes this bill makes to lift barriers to food donation.”

Among other provisions, the bill would: 

  • Improve federal oversight of current liability protections for food donation under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act;
  • Expand liability protections to non-profit retailers;
  • Expand liability protections to include restaurants, retailers, and farmers that donate food directly to individuals (currently, protections only cover their donations to non-profits);
  • Expand liability protections to past-date foods that meet safety and labeling standards; and
  • Expand liability protections to mislabeled food if the mislabeling doesn’t affect food safety. 

A 2016 survey by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance found that 44 percent of food manufacturers, 41 percent of restaurants, and 25 percent of retailers identified liability concerns as a barrier to food donation.  

Pingree first took on the issue of addressing food waste in the last Congress with the introduction of two landmark pieces of legislation. The Food Recovery Act was the first comprehensive legislation to address food waste through federal investments and tax credits, research, and a public awareness campaign. The Food Date Labeling Act would standardize date labels by distinguishing between quality and safety date labels.

Pingree will reintroduce both bills in the coming weeks.

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