The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued a warning to food business operators about bogus letters demanding payment for breaches of food safety regulations.

One such letter, claiming to be from the FSA, demanded up to GBP1,000 (US$1,470) as punishment for supposedly selling food "unfit for human consumption" due to high levels of bacteria associated with listeria food poisoning.

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 agency 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," the FSA said in a statement.