Shop staff in East Yorkshire have been criticised for pouring bleach on waste food to stop homeless people eating it.
Frozen food chain Iceland said staff at its Bridlington branch had occasionally “intimated” that the waste was treated, but this was against company policy.
It added that it did not offer expired food to charity because it could not be guaranteed as safe for consumption.
Former Mayor of Bridlington Liam Dealtry pledged to set up a system to give surplus food to those in need.
Mr Dealtry spoke after spending a night sleeping rough to raise money for homelessness charity, the Kingfisher Trust.
He said he was “shocked” to be told by rough sleepers that some local shops had started pouring bleach over food.
Mr Dealtry said he would write to local shops and hotels to encourage them to donate food. He also called for the council to act.
“A taskforce should be set up to help homeless people in the area. We must start looking after these people,” he said.
Iceland spokesperson, Pauline Begley said: “It is not Iceland policy to tamper with our waste products in any way.
“Having spoken to the store manager at Bridlington, he did confirm that in order to deter people from taking waste from our bins, the staff have on occasion intimated that our waste is treated.”
Richard Dodd of the British Retail Consortium said that there were strict regulations on disposal of food waste but that retailers could distribute some food.
He said: “This is usually food which has been discontinued, overrun or which has a reasonably long shelf life.
“We must make sure that anything which is given away is safe.”
He said that a number of retailers worked with Fare Share, a charity which targets food waste.
The charity distributed 3,100 tonnes of food last year and reaches 29,000 people every day.
Fare Share Director of Communications David Meller said: “If the food is fit for consumption get it to us and we’ll distribute it.
“If it’s not, there are far more responsible ways of disposing of food than putting bleach on it. That is a completely unacceptable practice.”