Cutting the amount of wasted food will do little to help those hardest hit by rising prices, a Birmingham MP has warned.
John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) spoke out after Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, urged families to clean their plates to combat rising costs in supermarkets.
Mr Hemming warned the poorest people were already unlikely to be wasting food.
The price of food has shot up, partly as a result of increased demand from rapidly-developing nations such as China and India.
Along with the soaring cost of petrol, it has meant some families are seeing their standard of living drop.
Mr Brown urged the public to be prudent around the dinner table, when he spoke from the G8 Summit in Toyako, Japan.
The Prime Minister warned: “If we are to get food prices down, we must also do more to deal with unnecessary demand, such as by all of us doing more to cut our food waste which is costing the average household in Britain about £8 per week.”
But Mr Hemming argued that this would do little to help households which were struggling most.
He said: “Although the report looks at different sizes of household it does not look at households by income. Yes we should aim to waste less, but I don’t think households on tight incomes are wasting that much food in any event.
“The cost of bread has rocketed. Food and energy costs are causing real pain to households.”
The Government yesterday published a major report warning that world food output had to rise to cope with a growing global population, in the shadow of a changing climate and scarcer natural resources.
Cutting waste both in UK homes and in the developing world food chain, where about 40 per cent of food harvested is lost, will help cut bills and meet rising demand, the study said.
In the UK, a third of all food bought is wasted, costing the average household £420 a year and causing unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 18 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
With an estimated 70,000 premature deaths linked to bad diets, the report also called for a renewal of the “five a day” campaign to boost the amount of fruit and vegetables consumers eat.
The Government, which is accepting all the recommendations of the report, will target groups where consumption of fruit and vegetables is low, such as young men and low-income young families.
The report also recommended a new scheme to ensure healthy food was provided in prisons and hospitals.
Mr Brown said: “We cannot deal with higher food prices in the UK in isolation from higher prices around the world.
“If food production in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world reached its potential, global food output would be much higher, far fewer people would go hungry and the threat of food-related political and social instability around the world would recede.”
The Conservatives accused Government departments of lecturing the public on food waste while failing to monitor what they throw away, and in the case of the Department for Communities and Local Government of wasting about 20 tonnes of food each year.
Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth said: “The amount of untouched food that ends up in our bins is staggering but also financially and environmentally wasteful.
“But while the Government is telling households to reduce food waste it has no idea how much food it is throwing away itself. This is yet again a clear case of the Government saying ‘Do as we say not as we do’.”