Food safety information for food businesses and charities
This fact sheet outlines the law and best food safety practices for donating food in Tasmania.
Law on donating food
Tasmanian food businesses can donate food directly to a recipient or for distribution through a charitable or not-for-profit organisation if the food is safe to eat.
Before you donate food to a charity for further distribution you should contact that organisation to find out what they can and cannot accept. Many organisations have a detailed list on their website.
The Civil Liability Act 2002 limits the liability of individuals and businesses that donate food, providing certain conditions have been met:
- Food is donated in good faith for a charitable or benevolent purpose.
- Food is donated with the intention that the receiver of the food does not have to pay for the food.
- Food is safe to eat when it leaves the possession or control of the donor.
- The donor gives the recipient any information it needs to ensure the ongoing safety of the food, regarding both food handling and time limits for safe consumption.
Use by and best before dates
Food should not be donated or eaten after its ‘use by’ date because it may be unsafe to eat, even though spoilage may not be visible.
Charities that receive food that will pass its use by date before distribution must throw the food away.
Food marked as ‘best before’ can be given away after the best before date has passed, provided the food is not damaged, deteriorated or perished.
There may be some loss of quality in food after its best before date but if it is otherwise fit for human consumption, it is not illegal to sell or donate this food, nor should there be any safety risk from eating the food.
In Australia, food allergies occur in around one in 20 children and one in 50 adults. You can help support people with food allergies by providing allergen information when donating food.
Wherever possible, provide a full ingredient list or tell the recipient if the food contains a common food allergen such as:
- tree nuts (almond, Brazil nut, cashew, hazelnut, macadamia, pecan, pine nut, pistachio, walnut)
- milk (dairy)
- fish or shellfish
- wheat or other cereals containing gluten
- sesame seed
- sulphites at 10 mg/kg or more.
Keeping donated food safe
Whether you are a business donating food to a charity or a charity distributing food to individuals, always follow standard food safety practices when processing, handling, storing, packing and transporting food:
- Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before handling food.
- Check the food for spoilage to ensure food is fit for human consumption.
- Check the date marking on food packaging and throw away any food that is past its use by date.
- For food that should be kept below 5°C or above 60°C for safety, keep the food at the required temperature and tell the recipient of the required temperature.
- If the food will only be safe to eat for a limited time, tell the recipient of that time.
- Tell the recipient if allergens are present.
- Cook and reheat food thoroughly.
- Cool large amounts of food quickly by transferring cooked food into smaller containers and placing in the fridge as soon as it has stopped steaming.
- Store food in clean, covered, food-grade containers.
- Separate raw and cooked food and don’t use the same utensils for both.
- Keep utensils and kitchen areas clean.
- Ensure all people handling donated food at your organisation know how to keep the food safe.
- Speak to an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) at your local council.
- Phone the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 or email [email protected]