The destruction of up to 10 million burgers suspected of containing horse DNA is morally and ethically wrong, a charity has said.
Any meat fit for human consumption should be offered to consumers for free, the UK's Food Ethics Council said.
Dan Crossley, chief executive of the charity, said the destruction of the suspected "horse burgers" took our "fast food, throwaway culture" to a whole new level.
"From a moral and ethical perspective, the amount of food we throw away is nothing short of scandalous, particularly in a world where a billion people are going hungry," he said.
"We must learn to value the food we eat."
One of Europe's biggest suppliers and processors, the ABP Food Group, is among two firms being investigated by health and agriculture authorities in the UK and Ireland over the controversy.
The company said it has recommended destroying up to 10 million frozen burgers which have been withdrawn from shops.
Mr Crossley stressed that food safety is critical, adding that if there is any risk to consumers the authorities must take whatever steps are necessary.
"Some people will have reservations about eating that meat as there's the potential to have horse meat in it," he said.
"But if it is fit for human consumption it would seem wrong to throw it away and for it to be pure waste.
"If the decision was made that it could not be sold through normal channels, they could look at other options like giving it free to people if they wanted it."
Another option would be to follow a food waste hierarchy, which involves reducing landfill by feeding those in need and livestock before composting, depending on the type of food, he said.
The charity boss - who also raised concerns over the waste of labour, carbon, energy and labelling used in production of the burgers - said half of the food produced around the world gets thrown away.
"That is a shocking statistic when there are people in parts of the world hungry and people in the UK and Ireland have the luxury of throwing away large amounts of food," he added.
Poor storage facilities, over-strict sell-by dates, "get-one-free" offers, and consumer fussiness all contribute to the waste, according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers' study last week.
Chris Mould, director of the Trussell Trust, the UK's largest provider of food banks, told the Huffington Post UK food waste was "shocking" and needed tackling urgently, especially as more and more people were struggling to provide food for their families.
"In our experience and over the last few years and particularly recently there has been a huge rise in the number of people struggling to get food on the table.
"We’ve doubled the number of food banks over the last year alone and the need is growing fast. If we’ve got more and more people visiting food banks and very substantial food waste happening then we should be looking at a policy initiative to change that. This is an urgent issue, a complicated issue and one that we need to collaborate on to do something about."