(Last Updated 10/09/2023)
Minnesota Date Labeling Regulations
Rating: Moderate Policy
Minn. R. 1550.1040; Minn. Stat. § 31.786; Minn. R. 1520.1900; Minn. Stat. § 31.784; Minn. Stat. § 31.782; Minn. R. 1550.1060; Minn. R. 1550.1160; Minn. R. 4626.0200
Minnesota requires date labeling for dairy products, eggs, shellfish, and perishables as defined in Minn. Stat. § 31.782. Eggs must be labeled with the pack date as well as a quality assurance date. Perishable foods that have quality assurance dates of more than 90 days need not bear open dates. Shellfish packages smaller than 1/2 gallon must be marked with either a sell-by date or “best if used by” date, and shellfish packages with capacity of 1/2 gallon or more must be labeled with the date of shucking. Neither sale nor donation is restricted for any past date food item.
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.
Minnesota 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.
Minnesota TAX INCENTIVES
Rating: No Policy
Minnesota does not offer additional tax incentives beyond federal incentives.
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.
Minnesota FOOD SAFETY
Rating: Moderate Policy
Sale of Locally Raised Eggs to Food Facilities; Selling or Serving Locally Grown Produce in Food Facilities; Guide to Donating Hunter-Harvested Deer in Minnesota; Food Safety for Food Donation
The Minnesota Health Department has issued comprehensive guidance on food donation safety protocols at food banks and pantries, as well as specific guidance on donation of eggs, venison, and locally grown produce. The guidance details which foods can be accepted, storage temperature guidelines, and handling procedures for food employees.
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.
Minnesota Animal Feed Regulations
Rating: Weak Policy
Any animal or vegetable waste, not to include vegetable waste or byproducts resulting from the manufacture or processing of canned or frozen vegetables, must be heat treated at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes prior to feeding any livestock or poultry. Annual animal-derived and vegetable waste feeding permits must be obtained, but exceptions apply for individuals feeding household waste to animals raised for personal use.
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.
Minnesota Organic Waste Recycling Laws
Rating: No Policy
Minnesota does not have a state-wide organic waste ban or waste recycling laws that bear on food waste.
Hennepin County Ordinance
Businesses that produce a significant amount of food waste, including but not limited to restaurants, grocery stores, food wholesalers and manufacturers, hotels, and event centers, must source-separate back-of-house food scraps and either self-haul or subscribe to a service to collect and deliver food scraps to a processing facility. To be covered, an entity must produce at least one ton of trash per week or contract for at least eight cubic yards of trash collection per week.
Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (Duluth) Ordinance
Covered entities must separate their organic material and either send to a composting, AD, or other processing facility, or process it on-site. Entities include: Grocery stores or commercial establishments with grocery departments that occupy 5,000 square feet or more of floor area; restaurants or catering businesses which are issued a Category 3 Establishment Food Handling License; post secondary institutions with enrollment of more than 1,000 full time students which provide meals prepared on-site; hospitals or nursing homes providing prepared meals to employees, patients, guests, or residents; food manufacturers or processors that occupy 5,000 square feet or more of floor area; assisted living facilities, correctional facilities.
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.