New KY Law Shields Food Donors From Lawsuits

A  Kentucky law set to take effect June 29 is anticipated to increase supermarket donations of food that would otherwise be discarded by protecting donors from lawsuits if people become ill after eating the food, according to a published report.

While there have been virtually no lawsuits brought over an illness from eating donated food, fear of being sued has still negatively affected donations, the state’s agriculture commissioner, Ryan Quarles, told the Louisville Courier-Journal. Last year, Quarles began an initiative that led to the Food Immunity Bill, which passed unanimously in both chambers of Kentucky's legislature.

The law will protect grocery stores, farmers and other donors of food to nonprofit organizations from civil or criminal liability, provided that there was no intentional misconduct. A federal “Good Samaritan” law already extends legal protections to food donors, but Kentucky’s new immunity law should give retailers further assurance, according to Tamara Sandberg, executive director of the Berea-based Kentucky Association of Food Banks, who added that she hoped that the new law will result in more donations of perishable items like meat and vegetables.

“We felt this was a problem and that we can do better,” noted Quarles, who worked with a task force of business and community leaders on the issue. “So we proposed simple language that gives broad immunity to those who donate. It's going to be a win-win situation.”

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