More than 250 people fought over discarded food in dumpsters after a power outage last week at an H-E-B grocery store in Texas, authorities said.
“We had over 250 people fighting in the dumpsters because someone posted ‘Free Food!’” Travis County Constable Precinct 4 George Morales III posted on Facebook. “This is not free food.”
Morales and the Austin grocery store warned residents not to eat any of the food retrieved from the dumpsters.
“The food is rotten and spoiled, and is unsafe to eat,” Morales wrote.
A deadly ice storm that swept through Texas last week wiped out power to more than 400,000 homes, businesses and other electricity customers.
As of Sunday morning, at least 66,000 Texas customers had no electricity, according to the tracking website PowerOutage.US.
“Due to a sustained power outage, the store was unable to keep certain perishable foods at proper temperatures,” H-E-B said in a statement given to CNN affiliate KEYE.
“To adhere to strict food quality and safety standards, we are required to dispose of certain perishable foods when they are not properly temperature controlled, which also prevents us from donating the items to food pantries and food banks.”
As rumors about the free food giveaway spread, roads were gridlocked and law enforcement responded, Morales said.
CNN has reached out to the city of Austin and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office for comment.
Travis County was among those included in an ice storm disaster declaration issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday.