Trading standards officers have shot a warning to owners of restaurants, cafés, takeaways and pubs in the City not to dupe customers.
The caution precedes a City Corporation campaign to better police food outlets displaying their Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) rating.
The crackdown comes after it emerged that some outlets, which include hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfasts, were advertising false ratings which do not match official appraisals.
While displaying ratings is not currently mandatory in England, if a premise advertises a food hygiene rating that is better than it actually is, it is classed as a misleading action under unfair trading legislation.
Any of the 1,700 food premises in the Square Mile could be subject to a surprise inspection.
Steve Playle, the local authority’s trading standards manager, said: “We want people to be able to go out and be confident that their food is being prepared safely so, therefore, over the next few weeks we will be visiting food outlets to make sure that they are clearly displaying their correct ratings.
“Food hygiene is a matter that affects us all and it is vital the premises in the Square Mile take this issue seriously.
“If anyone comes across an establishment that is displaying an incorrect rating, please let us know by calling 03454 04 05 06.”
The FHRS solely relates to food hygiene, ensuring that food being served in these premises is safe to consume.
Key factors include preparation, cleanliness of the premises, and management and staff awareness about food safety.
Premises are given a rating, with zero being the lowest and five the highest.
As of May 2018, almost three quarters (73%) of the City of London’s food premises were rated at a five.