The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has urged food businesses to be vigilant after it was made aware of a scam in Wales and England which references both the FSA and the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS).
Three local authorities in Wales and one in England have received reports of a person claiming to be from the FSA or the local authority, approaching food businesses demanding money for a food hygiene re-rating and warning that failure to pay will result in a fine.
The government department said neither the FSA nor local authorities would demand money in this way. Local authorities are responsible for carrying out inspections of food businesses to check that they meet the requirements of food hygiene law. They give businesses food hygiene ratings based on the findings of the inspections. There is no charge for these inspections.
Local authorities may charge only when the re-rating inspection is requested by the food business and will not demand that a request is made.
The FSA has urged businesses that believe they may have been targeted by a scam referencing food hygiene inspections or the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme, to not provide any details or make any payments and ask for ID from the caller. It has also asked businesses to report suspicious people to local authorities.
Angela Towers, head of the food hygiene rating team of the FSA, said: “Although the number of reports of this particular scam are low, we are concerned that businesses may lose money to fraudsters pretending to be from the FSA or a local authority. If you are approached by someone asking you to hand over money in this way, do not make any payment and always advise your local authority.”