(Last Updated 10/09/2023)
Maryland Date Labeling Regulations
Rating: Negative Policy
Maryland requires sell-by dates on Grade A milk products no more than 18 days after processing, after which date the milk product cannot be sold except in scenarios specified in Md. Code Regs. 10.15.06.11. Donation of any past date food item is not restricted.
Date labels are the dates on food packaging that are accompanied by phrases such as "use by," "best before," "sell by," "enjoy by," and "expires on." Date labels are almost entirely unregulated under federal law, except for infant formula and some very limited instances related to poultry and egg products. Because federal law is so limited, states have broad discretion to regulate date labels, which has resulted in a patchwork of date label regulation across the United States. The inconsistency in date label laws leads to food waste because consumers may discard food after the date on the package due to confusion about product safety and retailers or manufacturers may discard food due to confusion about selling or donating the past-date food.
Maryland Liability Protection Regulations
Rating: Moderate Policy
Donations made within the state are protected from liability according to the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.
The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, as amended by the Food Donation Improvement Act, provides a strong federal baseline of protection for food donors against state and federal liability claims. It covers individuals, businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations, the officers of businesses and nonprofit organizations, and gleaners. A donor must donate in good faith to a nonprofit organization that distributes the donated food to needy populations, or, if the donor is a qualified direct donor, they may donate food directly to needy individuals. Donated food must meet all quality and labeling standards imposed by federal, state and local laws and regulations. A state’s liability protection law can provide more, but not less, protection than the Emerson Act.
Maryland TAX INCENTIVES
Rating: Moderate Policy
Maryland farms that donate fresh farm products for human consumption may apply for tax credits equal to 100% of the value of the food donation up to $5,000 per tax year under MD Code Ann., Tax-Gen., § 10-745.
Rating: Expired or Repealed Policy
Residents of Montgomery County who hunt within the county and donate the deer carcass to 501(c)(3) nonprofit venison donation programs under the Montgomery County Deer Donation Program are eligible for up to a $50 tax credit for the expenses incurred to butcher and process venison under MD Code Ann., Tax-Gen., § 10-746. For any taxable year, the total amount of credits an individual may claim under this section may not exceed $200, unless the individual harvested each deer for which the credits are claimed in accordance with a deer management permit. This tax credit expired January 1, 2023.
The federal government provides tax deductions to incentivize businesses to donate food. As of December 2015, all businesses—including C-corporations, S-corporations, limited liability corporations (LLCs), partnerships and sole proprietorships—are eligible for an enhanced tax deduction that exceeds the property’s basis for donated food if they meet certain requirements. If they do not meet the requirements, they can still claim a general tax deduction in the amount of the property’s basis.
Maryland FOOD SAFETY
Rating: Weak Policy
The Department of Health issued guidance on how to make safe food donations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
States often base their food safety regulations on the model food safety regulations for restaurants and retail stores within the FDA Food Code. While the Food Code states that food donation is permitted, it does not specify which food safety laws or regulations pertain to the food donation context. Without guidance or clarity coming from a governmental entity, food donors will often refuse to donate their safe, wholesome food. States vary broadly in terms of the level of guidance they provide on food safety rules for food donation, often providing limited guidance for a specialized context, such as share tables in schools, or no guidance at all.
Maryland Animal Feed Regulations
Rating: Moderate Policy
Any animal material or refuse which has associated with animal material must be heat treated prior to feeding swine. Annual animal-derived treated waste feeding permits must be obtained, but exceptions apply for individuals feeding household waste to animals raised for personal use. There are no restrictions on feeding waste exclusively vegetable in nature.
For centuries, using food scraps as animal feed was common worldwide. The practice declined rapidly in the 1980s, when several disease outbreaks were linked to unsafe animal feed. In an attempt to prevent the spread of such diseases, federal laws and regulations were enacted to restrict what is often pejoratively referred to as “garbage feeding” to animals. However, using food scraps as animal feed in a safe, resource-efficient way can be environmentally friendly and energy-efficient, providing multiple benefits for both farmers and food waste generators, such as retailers, restaurants, and institutional cafeterias. Under federal law, food scraps can generally be fed to animals, so long as food scraps with animal derived by-products are heat-treated by a licensed facility before being fed to swine; and food scraps containing animal-derived by-products are not fed to ruminants. The federal regulations function as a floor, and most state regulations go beyond them.
Maryland Organic Waste Recycling Laws
Rating: Weak Policy
Any person, business, or cafeteria that produces more than 2 tons of food residuals in a given week must ensure organic waste is separate and diverted from landfills. Starting in January 2024, the law will apply to any person, business, or cafeteria that produces more than 1 ton of food residuals per week. Exceptions exist for entities that are located more than 30 miles away from a recycling facility that can accept the entirety of their organic waste. Covered businesses are able to apply for a waiver if the cost of diverting food residuals from a refuse disposal system is more than 10% more expensive than the cost of disposing the food residuals at a refuse disposal system.
In order to push businesses and consumers to reduce food waste, a growing number of states and localities are enacting organic waste bans or waste recycling laws to restrict the amount of food waste an entity can send to the landfill. However, each state differs regarding the specifics of its waste ban or recycling law. For example, they vary with regard to the types of entities covered under the law, how much organic waste an entity must produce in order to be covered, and whether exceptions exist for entities located far from a facility that accepts food scraps. These differences have a significant impact on the reach of these laws, and therefore on the amount of food waste diverted.