Edible Food Recovery

Share & Bookmark, Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

The state’s recycling law, SB 1383, includes Edible Food Recovery mandates for commercial businesses to help reduce food waste, meet recycling goals and address food insecurity. California’s goal by 2025 is to recover and redistribute 20 percent of edible food that would have otherwise be sent to landfills.

The law applies to “Tier 1” food generators (grocery stores, supermarkets, industrial food production and food distributors), and “Tier 2” food generators (restaurants, hotels or large venues serving food).

Tier 1 Edible Food Generators are required to recover the maximum amount of edible food that would otherwise be disposed of starting January 1, 2022. They include:

  • Grocery stores - Stores with 10,000 square feet or more that primarily sell canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, fish, and poultry.
  • Supermarkets - Retail stores with gross annual sales of $2 million or more that primarily sell dry grocery, canned goods, or nonfood items and some perishable items.
  • Food service providers: Businesses that provide food services to institutional, governmental, commercial, or industrial locations.
  • Food distributors - Companies that distribute food to retailers such as supermarkets and grocery stores.
  • Wholesale food vendors - Wholesale distributers that receive, ship, store, or prepare food for distribution.

Tier 2 Edible Food Generators are required to recover the maximum amount of edible food that would otherwise be disposed of starting January 1, 2024. They include:

  • Restaurants with 250 or more seats or a total facility size of 5,000 square feet or more.
  • Hotels with an on-site food facility and 200 or more rooms.
  • Health care facilities with on-site food operations and 100 or more beds.
  • Large, permanent venues that serve an average of more than 2,000 people per day of operation. This category includes stadiums, amphitheaters, arenas, halls, amusement parks, conference and civic centers, zoos, aquariums, airports, racetracks, performing arts centers, fairgrounds, museums, theaters, or other public attractions.
  • Large events such as a sporting event or flea market that charges an admission price, or is operated by a local agency, and serves an average of more than 2,000 people per day of operation. This category includes parks and open space when being used for an event.
  • State agencies with cafeterias that have 250 or more seats or are 5,000 square feet or larger.
  • Local education agencies with on-site food facilities.

SB 1383 requires Tier 1 and Tier 2 mandated food donors to:

  • Donate their excess edible food to a local food recovery organization or service, which includes, but is not limited to:
    • Food banks
    • Food pantries
    • Soup Kitchens
    • Other non-profits that distribute food to people in need
    • Food runners
    • For-profit food recovery services
  • Establish contracts or written agreements with food recovery organizations, which can include:
    • Establishing a regular food donation or collection schedule
    • Identifying allowable foods for donation
    • Cost-sharing options

Foods That Can Be Donated

Only donate quality foods that are still good to eat, and that you would give a neighbor or close friend. Unusual shapes or sizes are okay, but no rotten or half-eaten foods. Foods that are past the “best by” date may be okay, but please make sure the food is still safe to eat.

  • Whole produce such as apples, lemons, carrots, oranges, broccoli, etc.
  • Cut or prepared produce and foods such as celery sticks, cubed watermelon, cheese slices, salads, and sandwiches that are still in their original and unopened packaging
  • Milk, juice, tea, and other nutritional beverages that are still in their original and unopened packaging
  • Hot foods that have not yet been served, such as a full tray of pasta that was extra from a catering event or buffet
  • Day-old bread without any mold
  • Non-perishable foods that are shelf-stable and do not require refrigeration such as peanut butter, dry beans/pasta/grains, cans, crackers, sugar, and cereals that are still in their original and unopened packaging

Foods That Should Not Be Donated 

  • Leftovers such as a half-eaten tray of noodles or sandwich
  • Rotting produce 
  • Foods with opened or damaged packaging
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Candy, chips, chocolate, pastries, pork rinds etc.

Liability Protections For Food Donation

Federal and state civil and criminal liability protections are in place for both food donors and nonprofit organizations who receive or distribute food donations to those in need under the California Good Samaritan Act (AB 1219 2017)

  • Food can be donated to an individual or recovery organization
  • Food donors are protected from liability for both perishable and nonperishable food that is fit for human consumption but has exceeded the labeled shelf life date if the donor makes a good faith evaluation that the donated food is still wholesome 
  • Authorizes permitted food donors to engage in direct donation

 California Code Section 114433

  • Food donors are protected from civil or criminal liability if labeling or packaging is altered after the time of donation

 Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (1996)

  • Food must be donated to a nonprofit.
  • Food must meet all federal, state, and local quality and labeling requirements; if it does not, the food must be reconditioned to meet all requirements.
  • The receiving nonprofit organization must distribute it to needy individuals.
  • Needy individuals receiving the food may not pay for it, however, if one nonprofit donates food to another nonprofit for distribution, the Act allows the first nonprofit to charge the distributing nonprofit a nominal fee to cover handling and processing costs. 

Product Labeling Dates

Food date labels are an attempt to indicate quality of food, but not safety. In fact, the only federal regulation for date labeling of products is for infant formula. Most food products are still safe to eat past the date labeled on the product.

  • A "Sell-By" date tells the store how long to display the product for sale.
  • A "Best by" or "Best if Used By" date is recommended for best flavor or quality. 
  • A "Use-By" date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.

Edible Food Recovery Services in Orange County

Abound Food Care can help your business reduce food waste and set-up a food edible donation program. Their Food Donation Program is free to you and easy to implement. Abound Food Care partners provide tools to safely and efficiently donate excess edible food to nearby food banks and pantries. For more information, please visit www.aboundfoodcare.org or call 1-855-700-9662.

Second Harvest Food Bank works with hundreds of businesses and organizations to distribute food in every city throughout the county. They provide food to hundreds of local charities and organizations who distribute for to those in need at more than 350 locations throughout Orange County. For more information, please visit www.feedoc.org

Chefs End Hunger mission is to facilitate the redistribution of prepared food from hotels, restaurants, ad other food service localities to local charitable organizations that serve meals to communities in need. For more information, please visit www.chefsendhunger.org

Community Action Partnership of Orange County offers a food donation program. They welcome food from food industry manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers. For more information, please visit www.capoc.org/oc-food-bank

Food Finders offers a food rescue program, unique from food banking. The program is a "Food Rescue" because Food Finders keeps good, edible food from being lost to a landfill. The process is simple: overage food from restaurants, grocers, corporate cafeterias, schools, etc. is collected and delivered directly to nonprofit shelters, missions, pantries, and centers where it is used to feed people who are disadvantaged and food insecure. For more information, please visit www.foodfinders.org


More information for Tier 1 and Tier 2 edible food generators is available on CalRecycle's website at: https://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/organics/slcp/foodrecovery/donors

More information for food recovery organizations is available on CalRecycle’s website here: https://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/organics/slcp/foodrecovery/organizations 

For an example of the type of contract or agreement that can be used between food generators and recovery organizations, has been developed by CalRecycle at this link: Model Food Recovery Agreement.

An EPA list of ideas and activities for grocery stores and food generators to mitigate food waste.

For edible food safety requirements see the California Retail Food Code (PDF).


Information on this page is provided as a community resource only. The City of Newport Beach (City) does not endorse or recommend non-City related organizations listed on this page or on the websites of the provided resources. The City reserves the right to limit what is posted per City Council Policy D-5, Digital Communications.