Politicians in the House of Lords have demanded supermarkets scrap “buy one get one free” offers - because too much of the food goes to waste.

But they met a barrage of criticism from anti-poverty campaigners, who said many hard-pressed mums and dads depended on special offers to feed their families.

The call to bin “buy one get one free” offers came in a report by the Lords European Union Committee, signed off by peers including Lord Dear, the former Chief Constable of West Midlands Police.

They were looking for ways to cut the massive amount of food wasted - with 15 million tonnes of food thrown away each year in the UK alone.

And they accused supermarkets of encouraging shoppers to buy too much through the offers.

In a report published today, the peers said: “Consumers have a psychological ‘reflexive’ response, in that although they may not have the storage space or need for the extra food, they will buy it because they are feel they are getting a bargain.”

In a statement, the Committee said: “Supermarkets should move away from incentives such as ‘buy one get one free’ for certain types of produce, which may result in more food waste at home.”

But food poverty campaigners have pointed out that as food prices rise special offers can be vital.

Food prices have risen nearly 10 per cent faster than inflation over the past six years, and research by consumer group Which? found two thirds of people say they are worried about rising food bills. Robbie Davison, director of the Can Cook food poverty campaign, said: “Buy one get one free works.

“For some product lines it can be fantastic. If you’ve got the ability and the ideas to use the ingredient on special offer or if you can freeze any you don’t need immediately it can be great.”

He added: Robbie Davison: “The politicians are completely detached from the way most people live their lives.

“Supermarket special offers have no bearing on their lives.”

A spokesman for the End Hunger Fast campaign said: “What people who have very little money want is prices to be reduced.

“Waste food adds to the cost of food, supermarkets need to get better at not overstocking and not having so much waste.”

The committee found a staggering 90 million tonnes of food is wasted across the EU each year.

It called on the EU to establish a five year strategy to reduce food waste.

The peers also called for more food to be diverted away from waste. Currently businesses can sell waste to be turned into compost rather than passing edible food on to charities such as food banks.

The committee wanted to see incentives changed to make it more attractive to big firms to donate food and called for the government to look into passing a “Good Samaritan Law” that would protect supermarkets and sandwich shops from prosecution if food they pass on ended up making someone ill.