Bogus FSA caller hoodwinks food companies

The Food Standards Agency has warned food businesses to be on their guard following a spate of bogus phone calls from someone claiming to be employed by the organisation.

The agency revealed it has been alerted to a number of incidents involving pub chains in Kensington, Chelsea, Westminster and Lincolnshire that have been contacted by an individual masquerading as an FSA employee.

The caller says an environmental health officer (EHO) will make a visit in the next fortnight to update the pub’s manager on new food legislation and asks for their mobile phone number. They then promise to text the manager within 48 hours of the visit to confirm arrangements.

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The FSA points out that visits to food businesses are arranged by local authorities, not the FSA, and most hygiene inspections are unannounced, with EHOs introducing themselves once they arrive at the business.

Cathy Alexander, head of the FSA’s Food Fraud Branch, said: “The FSA takes all food fraud activity extremely seriously. We do not make calls to food businesses on behalf of food law enforcement officers and the person, or people, making these calls is not from the FSA. We’re monitoring the situation and urge businesses to be on their guard.”

The FSA is alerting local authorities and urged any companies that receive suspicious calls to contact its Food Fraud Hotline on 020 7276 8527.

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