A bill designed to reduce the waste of food passed a preliminary reading on Wednesday, March 9. The bill aims to remove the legal risks incurred by businesses able and willing to donate food that would otherwise have been thrown out.
The primary sponsors of the Food Donation Act, Uri Maklev and Moshe Gafni of the United Torah Judaism party, acted in response to a request made by Leket, an Israeli national food bank, which works to salvage food and donate it to people in financial distress.
Leket CEO Gidi Kroch told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that $4.5 billion worth of food is wasted each year in Israel. He praised new Israeli efforts therefore, which partially emulate the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act in the US that protects food donors who donate in good faith from liability.
“We at Leket Israel have been working on this for years and we praise this momentous step forward. I believe that once this law goes into effect, it will open many doors that have been closed until now due to food donors’ concerns about being exposed to liability,” Kroch said.
An individual who donates food is currently liable to face prosecution in the event that recipients suffer from health issues following consumption. However, authors of the bill are seeking to remove the liability in order to rid potential donors of the threat of legal proceedings.
“People simply don’t want to donate food at the moment because they understand that they could donate today and someone could file a lawsuit against them tomorrow and claim that they are in the hospital because of them,” David Zohar, Maklev’s spokesperson, told TPS.
Zohar claimed that the Ministry of Justice had categorically rebuffed calls to remove the fundamental right to sue any individual who donates food. He explained that an agreement was thus reached that would result in the passing of legislation clearly outlining the rules and regulations of donating food. Donors would then be able to operate with minimal risk in a legal and recognized framework.
“There is no legislation today which defines clearly who you can donate to and what the responsibilities are. The legislation therefore has to state clearly that if someone donated and there was no negligence on his part, then he will not bear responsibility,” Zohar argued.
He emphasized that the intention behind the bill is not to absolve a person who has donated unrefrigerated or spoiled goods of responsibility, but to safeguard donors through legal stipulations.
“Donors will now know how to appropriately transport and store the food while realizing that they undertook all required measures and will bear no responsibility for any consequent potential mishaps,” Zohar said.
Zohar concluded by highlighting the multiple benefits which he said could be reaped from the law: “We hope that this will facilitate a culture of decreasing waste and will also stimulate economic and social gains. Most importantly, people who struggle and don’t have food will be able to receive it from places such as event caterers. That is the overall goal.”
Alexander J Apfel (TPS)
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