The Food Standards Agency has confirmed it has been made aware of a scam that references its 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 FSA has warned operators that it would never demand money in this way and that local authorities are responsible for carrying out inspections of food businesses to check that they meet the requirements of food hygiene law.
They point out that there is no charge for these inspections, except in some instances when the re-rating inspection is requested by the food business.
Operators concerned that they may have been targeted by a scam referencing food hygiene inspections or the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme are urged not to provide any details or make any payments and to request ID from the caller.
They can report any suspicions to their local authority. Contact details can be found HERE.
Angela Towers, head of the Food Hygiene Rating Team at 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.”
Mrs Towers said the organisation was working closely with local authorities to monitor the reports.
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is set out in law in Wales and Northern Ireland where display of the rating sticker is mandatory but display of the rating sticker is voluntary in England.
The scheme is run by the Food Standards Agency and, in Wales, the Welsh Government, in partnership with local authorities.
The Food Standards Agency is the government department responsible for food safety in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.