Pubs have been warned about a scam involving bogus letters claiming to be from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) demanding payments for breaches of food regulations.
The FSA is urging businesses not to send any money if they receive any such letters and to report the matter to the police.
One letter sent to a restaurant in Newham Borough in London demands payment of £1,000 and has poor quality reproductions of the logos of Newham Council, the FSA and the Metropolitan Police.
It tells the business it had been selling food which contained high levels of the bacteria Listeria Monocytogenes and describes how investigators, which it claims work for the agency, had visited the premises and bought food which was unfit to eat.
It then demands that £1,000 be paid in the next seven days to avoid a heavier fine or imprisonment. Solicitors E. SENA and Co are named as debt collectors for the fine.
The letter also states the business should not attempt to make any written or telephone contact with E.Sena and Co because case files are with the "crown prosecution services".
The FSA has emphasised it is not the national enforcement authority for food law and never sends letters demanding payment because local authorities are responsible for breaches in food regulations.