Food Standards Agency (FSA) has urged retailers and food businesses to be vigilant in light of a food hygiene rating scam reported in England and Wales.

“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,” FSA said in a statement.

The agency noted that there is no charge for inspections of food businesses by local authorities to check that they meet the requirements of food hygiene law. Ratings are based on the findings of these inspections.

Local authorities may charge fees when a business requests re-rating inspection, but they will not demand that a request is made, FSA added in a statement.

FSA urged businesses not to provide any details or make payments if they think they are being targeted by a scam.

“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,” said Angela Towers, Head of the Food Hygiene Rating Team of the FSA.

Display of the food hygiene rating sticker is mandatory in Wales and Northern Ireland, but voluntary in England. The Food Hygiene Rating Scheme is run by the Food Standards Agency and, in Wales, the Welsh Government, in partnership with local authorities.