Health and Family Services Cabinet
Kentucky Department for Public Health Warns of Health Inspection Scam

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, December 07, 2010  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Beth Fisher, (502) 564-6786, ext. 3100 and 3101  

Officials with the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) are warning Kentucky food establishments of a nationwide telephone scam targeting restaurants. 

According to DPH Commissioner William Hacker, M.D., restaurants across the state are being contacted by entities claiming to be from the health department. The fraudulent inspectors will call and ask to set up a time for an inspection, and also threaten monetary fines for non-compliance.

So far, incidents have all involved a type of telephone scam in which the caller requests sensitive information about the restaurant and the staff.  The caller then requests that the restaurant call another telephone number to actually schedule an inspection.

“Though agents from the local, state, and federal health agencies departments routinely inspect Kentucky food establishments, advance scheduling of an inspection is not a normal procedure,” said Kathy Fowler, acting director of the Division of Public Health Protection and Safety.

Mark Reed, manager of Kentucky’s Food Safety Branch said his office has received reports of this scam across the state.

“From the reports that we have received, the scammers appear to be primarily targeting ethnic facilities,” said Reed. “To date, we are not aware of any fraudulent inspector actually showing up for an inspection, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.”

Reed said that all health inspectors in Kentucky should carry proper photo identification signifying their relationship with federal, state or local health agencies. Food facilities are encouraged to ask for proper identification from anyone representing themselves as a health inspector. If any lingering doubt exists about the legitimacy of a call or food inspector, facilities are advised to call their local health department.

“Kentucky’s food establishment operators who are contacted by an individual claiming to be a health inspector but cannot provide proper identification, or who requests personal or sensitive information about the restaurant and its staff members, should contact their local health department and local law enforcement officials,” said Hacker.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health’s food safety branch is working cooperatively with the state Attorney General’s Office in assisting their investigation regarding this scam.