Staff at Iceland, the frozen food firm, have been accused of pouring bleach and toilet cleaner onto waste food to stop homeless people eating it.
Workers at the firm’s store in Bridlington are accused of squirting chemicals onto food which was thrown away because it was past its “use by” date.
The firm admitted that a single member of staff at that store had suggested the food might have been “treated” with chemicals but a manager said such an act was against company policy and denied it had happened.
Critics said that the homeless people who regularly hunted for food among the store’s waste could be poisoned if they ate contaminated food.
The allegations were made after local councillor Liam Dealtry, 40, spent time among the homeless in East Yorkshire.
Cllr Dealtry, the former mayor of Bridlington, was researching a system to distribute food to the homeless when he was told of the alleged actions of the staff at the Bridlington store
He said: “I was mortified.
“They said Iceland staff had been pouring bleach and the blue toilet cleaner onto the food they would normally eat.”
Glenn Pougnet, director of the charity StreetSmart, which helps get homeless people off the streets, said food which was normally thrown away could be a great help to people on the streets.
Use by and best before dates have been criticised in the past for being overly conservative and wasting food that is perfectly healthy but only looks less appetising.
According to the Food Standards Agency, around a third of the food bought by households is thrown away and “most of this could have been eaten”.
Iceland said the chilled food was thrown out because it was past its “use by” date and not fit for consumption.
A spokeswoman said: “In order to deter people from taking waste from our bins, the staff have on occasion, intimated that our waste is treated.
“This action is outside company policy.”
The firm’s marketing director, Nick Canning, added: “One of our store staff suggested to one of the Freegans [people who take unwanted food] not to do it because it might have been treated with chemicals.
“It has never been and it wasn’t actually done.”