Shoppers at Tesco, Aldi and other stores in Essex, Leeds and Tyne and Wear were faced with little to no fresh food as extreme weather conditions caused chillers to stop working.
Britain experienced its hottest day on record on Tuesday as temperatures rose to 40.3C and a red “threat to life” weather warning was issued by the Met Office.
The heatwave caused chaos to transport services as multiple wildfires raged across the country, gutting homes and devastating wildlife habitats.
In some supermarkets, entrances to chilled aisles were blocked, shelves were covered and signs notifying shoppers of broken chillers were displayed.
In an image shared on social media, a sign at a Tesco store in Chelmsford, Essex, read: “Due to the extreme weather conditions these chillers have failed and stock is unavailable. Sorry for any inconvenience.”
Many chilled shelves were visibly empty of food produce, with one shopper at a Tesco in Leeds claiming around 80 per cent of the store’s refrigeration was not working.
People also reported issues at Aldi stores, with one shopper in Tyne and Wear sharing an image of empty shelves due to failing fridges and freezers.
A spokesperson for Aldi said: “A very small proportion of our stores experienced difficulties with their chillers due to the extreme heat yesterday, however, the vast majority are now back up and running.”
Hannah Dougherty, food policy adviser at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Due to the exceptional temperatures over the last few days, some retailers have experienced issues with chillers in-store.
“They are working to remedy this as quickly as possible, and retailers have discarded some affected products to protect customer health.”
According to Tesco, much of its affected chilled stock was temporarily moved to refrigeration units at the back of stores while instore units were fixed.
Regarding food waste, it said it provides two million meals a month on average to around 5,700 charities and community groups.
It came as supermarket freezers and shelves were emptied of ice cream and water bottles yesterday as shoppers stocked up during the record-breaking heatwave.
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