LANSING, Mich., April 27, 2011 — The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD), in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH), the Michigan Restaurant Association, and local health departments, is warning the state’s food establishments about a scam involving fake food inspectors who are currently making the rounds in Michigan.
Michigan restaurants have reported they have received calls from individuals claiming to be from a heath department. The callers request to schedule an inspection at the establishment, and have also requested sensitive information from the businesses. If refused, the scam artists then threaten enforcement action and fines.
“Assuring a safe food supply in all aspects of the food chain is the primary mission of MDARD and it is completely unacceptable for anyone to pose as a food safety inspector,” said Kevin Besey, MDARD’s Food and Dairy Division Acting Director. “Food establishments need to be on the look-out for these con artists to assure they aren’t taken in by the scam to protect their personal and business financial information.”
Inspections of restaurants and other food establishments are usually unannounced to ensure proper food safety measures are being followed at all times. It is rare that a state or local health department inspector would schedule an inspection. Additionally, food establishment owners and managers should never provide confidential information, such as social security numbers, over the phone.
Here are some quick tips so you don’t fall victim to this scam:
Ask for identification if someone that you don’t know stops by or calls claiming to be from the local health department or MDARD. State and local food inspectors carry official identification.
If the individual can not provide proper identification, do not allow the person access to your facility. Contact your food regulatory agency immediately and report it.
Don’t provide sensitive or confidential information over the phone such as a social security number. State and local food inspectors would never ask for that information.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your local food regulatory agency or MDARD. You can reach MDARD at 800-292-3939.
Editor’s note: an interview-style video link is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-PHadaeGHo for your use.