Health department inspectors pour bleach on food meant for homeless people in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WSVN) — Health department officials in one Missouri city poured bleach on food meant to be served to homeless people — because volunteers didn’t get permits.

KCTV reports inspectors simultaneously shut down large picnics across Kansas City on Sunday, Nov. 5th, dumping all of the prepared food into bags and soaking them in bleach so no one could sift through to eat any of it.

Health department officials said the food could have put people at risk.

“E. coli or salmonella or listeria can grow in the food,” department director Rex Archer told Fox 32. “And then you give that to homeless people who are more vulnerable, they will end up in the ER and even die from that exposure.”

The group, called Free Hot Soup Kansas City, consists of volunteers who had prepared vats of chili, foil-wrapped sandwiches and vats of soup to hand out to the homeless population.

They told reporters the bleach did not deter some of the homeless from attempting to salvage the food afterward.

Organizers argue they should not have to get permits to serve food because they are not a food establishment or a not-for-profit group. According to the Kansas City Star, they say they are “just friends who want to help people.”

But the city’s mayor sided with the health department, tweeting, “Rules are there to protect the public’s health, and all groups must follow them, no exceptions.”

Free Hot Soup volunteers says they will not be deterred, and plan to continue their mission — on private property.