Retailers should be on the look-out for fraudulent food inspectors, said the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

According to the FSA, fraudsters are visiting food businesses claiming that they are from the FSA and then demanding money from the owners as an on-the-spot fine for the premises being allegedly in breach of hygiene laws.

The FSA did not reveal how much money has been taken from businesses in these scams but advised retailers to ask for identification from anyone who claims to be from the Agency and not to give out money as there are no fixed penalties for food safety breaches.

“The Agency itself does not carry out food inspections. These are carried out by local authority authorised inspectors who carry relevant identification when visiting a food business,” said a FSA spokeswoman.

It also advises any retailer who encounters someone who they believe to be masquerading as an inspector to contact the police or local authority as well as reporting it to the FSA on either the food fraud hot-line: 020 7276 8527 or by e-mail