Police guard dumpsters full of discarded food at Fred Meyer

About a dozen police officers guarded dumpsters filled with perishable food outside a Portland Fred Meyer as people attempted to take the items that were discarded when the store lost power.

The Oregonian/Oregon Live reported that on Tuesday employees at a Fred Meyer in the northeast part of the city threw out thousands of items that were deemed no longer safe for consumption. The store was one of many that lost power following a weekend winter storm. As of Wednesday, more than 150,000 remained in the dark in the greater Portland area.

In a statement sent to KOIN, Fred Meyer said the food was thrown away "out of an abundance of caution." The Oregon Health Authority also has requirements for licensed facilities during a power outage in order to prevent food borne illnesses.

Images on social media showed piles of unopened packaged meat, cheese and juice in the store’s dumpsters.

"We appreciate people speaking out against hunger. We get it, throwing away food is never a good thing," the Fred Meyer statement said. "Unfortunately, some perishable food that requires refrigeration at our Hollywood store was out of temperature for a protracted period of time."

According to The Oregonian, people began gathering at the dumpster around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. Within hours, about a dozen officers arrived to guard the food that had been thrown out.

Fred Meyer said it"engaged law enforcement, as the safety of our associates and customers is always our top priority."

People at the scene said police threatened to arrest them for trespassing.

Eventually, officers left the area and people jumped into the dumpsters to take items.