Food businesses have been warned about a scam involving the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.
Three local authorities in Wales and one in England have received reports of a person that claims to be from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) or local authority, and approaches food businesses demanding money for a food hygiene re-rating. They are telling businesses they will be fined if they do not pay up.
The FSA, which said it is working closely with local authorities to monitor these reports, said neither it nor local authorities would demand money in this way.
Local authorities are responsible for carrying out inspections of food businesses to ensure they meet the requirements of food hygiene law, and give businesses food hygiene ratings based on the findings of the inspections.
There is no charge for inspections, and local authorities may charge only when a food business requests a re-rating inspection, and will not demand a request is made.
Business that are concerned they may have been targeted by a scam should not provide any details or make any payments, and ask for ID from the caller. If a business has any suspicions, these should be reported to the local authority.
"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,” said Angela Towers, head of the FSA Food Hygiene Rating Team.
“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.”
The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is set out in law in Wales and Northern Ireland where display of the rating sticker is mandatory, while 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.