A drooling and pungent homeless man made double-dipping look like child’s play at a Midtown Whole Foods, grabbing from the hot food bar with his bare hands to stuff his bearded face — as employees just chuckled and said they were powerless to stop him.
A Post photo editor had just plunked down $17 for a jerk chicken dinner at the store across from Bryant Park Sunday night when he spotted the grungy gourmand ignoring numerous “no sampling” signs to treat the bar like his personal feed-bag.
The unidentified chowhound pounded mac-and-cheese and mixed veggies, at times using serving spoons to pack multiple dishes into a plastic cup he’d brought with him from the outside.
But at other points, he simply dug in with his visibly-dirty mitts, grabbing food from the trays and shoving it directly into his mouth, wet with drool and framed by a scraggly beard.
In the closest thing to a display of personal hygiene from the man, he stopped every now and then to lick his fingers clean.
All the while, Whole Foods workers looked on, smiling and laughing — while doing nothing to stop the pig-out.
“Oh, he comes here all the time,” said one employee of the freeloader. “We can’t do anything about it, we were told.”
Workers on Monday clarified that whenever they see any hot-bar binging they’re supposed to tip off the store’s security guards to step in.
As for the tainted food, workers said that they promptly toss it.
“I just throw out the tray, that’s our routine,” said one store supervisor, who declined to be identified. “We address the situation and throw the tray out and put a fresh one in the bar.”
But the suddenly unsavory meals weren’t tossed by the time The Post left the store on Sunday — and some less-than-appetized customers there on Monday weren’t interested in taking any chances.
“That’s a lot of germs,” said Ronald Cozart, 31. “I won’t be eating here in the future.”
Added one shopper who gave his name as Jay, “Ew. That’s pretty awful. If someone’s hands are in the salad bar and the staff is laughing, I don’t want to waste my money here.”
A man who identified himself as the store’s manager — declining to give his name, despite wearing a tag on the uniform that gave it away as Yoichi — referred requests for comment to the chain’s corporate office.
A message left with that office was not returned.