The Food Standards Agency has issued a warning after reports that crooks have been impersonating its officers to scam food businesses out of money using the food hygiene rating scheme (FHRS).
While the number of instances is thought to be low, with just four local authorities involved – three in Wales, and one in England – the FSA has sent out a warning to prevent businesses from losing money.
The individuals involved have been approaching food businesses and demanding money for a re-rating of the premises, referencing the FHRS.
The FSA has clarified that FHRS inspections and ratings are free, and that local authorities only charge if the business itself requests a re-rating inspection.
An FSA spokesperson said: "Through our regular contact with local authorities we became aware of a scam referencing the FHRS operating in Swansea, Newport and Cardiff, and a possible connected one in Herefordshire.
“The local authorities became aware of the scam following reports by food businesses. Details of the scam have been obtained by them and are currently under investigation and through our liaison with local authorities we continue to monitor this.
“Meanwhile we have alerted all local authorities in Wales, England and Northern Ireland to this food hygiene rating scam, as well as alerting food businesses through our usual communication channels.”