Costa Rica: Policy Highlights and Opportunities
Estimates suggest that approximately 40% of Costa Rica's food supply is needlessly lost or wasted each year. At the same time, more than 30% of the population was moderately or severely food insecure prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Costa Rican government has demonstrated a commitment to addressing food and nutritional security and to promoting food system sustainability through national policy iniatives.
Atlas Research: Costa Rica
Costa Rica research was published in March 2021 and was made possible with the advice and support of our on-site partners, including Banco de Alimentos de Costa Rica.
Costa Rica standardizes date labels pursuant to the Central American Technical Regulation for the General Labeling of Prepackaged Foods. It is intended to harmonize national legislation with the Codex Alimentarius General Standard
for the Labeling of Prepackaged Foods, however the regulation has not been updated with the most recent best practices. As a result, manufacturers in Costa Rica continue to use the “expiration date” to reflect quality rather than safety.
Tax Incentives and Barriers
Costa Rica offers tax benefits for food donations pursuant to the Income Tax Law. This Law exempts charitable donations, including in-kind donations, from gross income calculations for
tax purposes up to a limit of 10% of the taxpayer’s net income. Food recovery organizations such as food banks presumably fall within the classification of appropriate recipients of charitable donations.
Policy Opportunities and Recommendations
Food Safety for Donations
Food donors in Costa Rica have expressed uncertainty as to which food safety standards apply to donated food. The government should provide clarification
by amending the national regulatory framework to explicitly state which food safety provisions apply to food donors and donation-receiving entities.
Liability Protection for Food Donation
Costa Rica should adopt legislation that establishes comprehensive and clear liability protection for food donors and food recovery organizations that act in good faith.
Costa Rica’s liability protections should allow food recovery organizations and other intermediaries to charge a nominal fee for donated food.
Donation Requirements and Food Waste Bans
Costa Rica should build on the commitment it recently expressed in its National Policy of Sustainable Production and Consumption 2018-2030, which prioritizes
the reduction and appropriate management of food waste. For example, the government could require certain businesses to subscribe to organic waste recycling services.