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Compiling food into food parcels for redistribution

Food donation may arise at any stage of the food production and distribution chain for a number of different reasons. Due to difficulties in managing supply and demand, some food businesses may have a surplus of supply to meet orders and often orders for food may be cancelled resulting in excess stock. In certain cases, errors in the labelling or packaging could mean that the perfectly safe food will not be entered into the marketplace and so is available for donation.

This article relates to charities or individuals who collect food from a donating food business to compile into food parcels for redistribtion.

Food Parcels

  • Parcels may be compiled by individuals immediately after the food is collected from the donating food business.
  • Parcels may be compiled by individuals in their own home following collection of food from retailers or other food businesses.
  • Parcels may be compiled by charities in an independent premises (not the individual's home) following collection of food from retailers or other food businesses.
  • These food parcels may be distributed to other charities as well as to individuals.
  • The donated food may not be part of a food parcel, but may be left in a central location within a centre where individuals may select the food they wish to take.

Food businesses can choose to donate food once it is safe and in a condition that would allow the product to still be sold, i.e., an acceptable condition. 

In general, the compilation and handling of food parcels involves minimal handling of the food itself but rather involves placing already prepacked food into the final food parcel. Where additional handling or repacking of food occurs, you should consult the other guidance on food donation.

All charities or individuals receiving donated food for food parcels or redistribution must make themselves aware of their legal responsibilities under food legislation.


This information is intended to provide an overview of general food safety guidance.

It contains relevant questions and answers to help clarify the legal provisions in EU food legislation thus allowing the safe donation and receipt of food. It also includes links to guidance on compliance with relevant legislation. A summary of the main pieces of legislation that may apply to your business/charity is highlighted below.