News added on 23.04.2019

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Food safety

Don't fall for food safety inspection scam

The Food Standards Agency has issued a warning about a fraudulent inspection scam. What does this entail and what should food businesses do to protect themselves?

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has received reports in three separate areas of England and Wales about someone impersonating one of its inspectors or one from the local authority. The fraudster claims to be entitled to carry out a food hygiene re-rating inspection, demands a “fee” and tells the business owner that they will be fined if they fail to pay.

The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is run by local authorities in partnership with the FSA, with local authority officials carrying out the inspections. The inspectors assess:

  • how food is handled, stored and prepared
  • the condition of the premises; and
  • how well food safety measures are managed.

The business is then given a rating of 0 to 5, indicating the result of the inspection. In England and Scotland, businesses are encouraged to display their ratings for customers; in Wales and Northern Ireland, they are required to do so.

Local authority inspectors do not routinely charge for inspections. However, a food business can request a re-rating visit, for example where it has made efforts to improve standards and wants its rating to reflect this. In these cases the local authority may levy a charge.

The FSA is advising food businesses to check an inspector’s identification to verify that the inspection is genuine. If money is demanded in this way, don't pay and report the incident to the local authority. The contact details for local food safety teams can be found online.

A bogus inspector has been demanding money for re-rating inspections. Genuine food hygiene inspectors carry identification, which you can check with your local authority before allowing them to proceed. You should not be charged for an inspection, unless you have requested a re-rating visit. Again, check with the local authority if there is any doubt.

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