(Last Updated 09/05/2023)
Pennsylvania Date Labeling Regulations
Rating: Negative Policy
7 Pa. Code § 59a.15; 3 Pa. Code § 5743; 3 Pa. Code § 5744; 3 Pa. Code § 5745; 7 Pa. Code § 46.4; Food Code 3-202-18
Pennsylvania requires date labeling on milk and shellfish. Shellfish packages smaller than 1/2 gallon must be marked with a “sell-by” 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. Unless exempted from labeling requirements, milk must be labeled with a sell-by date no more than 17 days after pasteurization. Ultrapasteurized, cultured, aseptically processed dairy products and dairy products that have undergone higher heat shorter time pasteurization as well as milk sold on the same premises where it was processed are exempted from the 17 day requirement. Dairy producers may obtain a permit to label milk with a sell-by date of more than 17 days after pasteurization. Milk cannot be sold after the sell-by or best-by date. 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.
Pennsylvania 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.
Pennsylvania TAX INCENTIVES
Rating: Moderate Policy
Pennsylvania offers a tax credit to approved applications to the Charitable Food Program. A sample of eligible projects include gleaning, community agriculture, and food rescue organizations. The tax credit is valued at 55% of the total contribution.
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.
Pennsylvania FOOD SAFETY
Rating: No Policy
Pennsylvania does not have any food safety laws nor guidance regarding food donations.
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.
Pennsylvania Animal Feed Regulations
Rating: Moderate Policy
3 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 2303; 3 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 2324; 3 Pa. Stat. and Cons. Stat. Ann. § 2371-2379
Any animal material must be heat treated at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes prior to feeding any domesticated animal. Annual animal-derived treated waste treatment permits must be obtained, but exceptions apply for individuals feeding household waste to swine. There are no restrictions on feeding vegetable waste.
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.
Pennsylvania Organic Waste Recycling Laws
Rating: No Policy
Pennsylvania does not have any organic waste bans or waste recycling laws that bear on food waste.
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.