The Food Standards Agency has warned food companies to be vigilant after one business received a letter claiming to be from the body demanding cash in return for breaches of food regulations.

An unnamed company  recently received a letter demanding payment of £1,000 as punishment for supposedly selling food unfit for human consumption due to high levels of bacteria associated with listeria food poisoning.

The news has prompted the agency to issue a warning to all manufacturers and retailers in the sector.

“The agency is warning food business operators that if they receive any such letters... they should not send the money and instead report the letter to their local police,” the body said in a statement.

“[The FSA] is not the national enforcement authority for food law and would not be sending any such letters demanding payment. Any breaches of food hygiene regulations would be dealt with by local authorities.”