Watch above: a British food store may have reopened, but now there’s a dispute over labelling
SASKATOON – A Saskatoon staple for British ex-pats re-opened on Wednesday – under a new name – though local business owner Tony Badger maintains the concept of offering the comforts of home has remained fully intact.
“Brit Foods” is no more and in its place has risen “Churchill’s British Imports.”
Badger felt the move was necessary after finding himself embroiled in a heated dispute with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). He wanted a fresh start under a new corporation, but recently he was dealt another blow.
“Our first shipment of the year, in April, was randomly selected for inspection and referred to the CFIA. They found a couple of items that could not be brought into the country, so those were refused,” he said.
There are about 2,000 food items in the store. In early April, the CFIA conducted a food inspection and issued a report which deemed 52 products non-compliant.
The most often noted infraction was ‘Non-Bilingual Label.” In this case, the non-presence of the French language factored into the non-compliance designations.
“We did a quick survey in Saskatoon over the last few days and we found 20 shops that had no French labeling. In some cases, not even English labeling,” Badger told Global News.
“If they [CFIA] are going to pursue this matter, we would like to see the thousands of shops across Canada become compliant with French labelling.”
The issues that have plagued Badger began when the CFIA deemed British staples, including Irn-Bru, Marmite and Ovaltine, non-compliant.
Since then, he has closed down two of his stores in British Columbia and Alberta.
Badger believes his products should be exempt from bilingualism requirements because they are specialty items. The CFIA disagrees.
The agency defines specialty items as foods with a special religious significance or an imported food that is not widely used in Canada and for which there is no readily available substitute made, processed or packaged in Canada.
A CFIA statement issued to Global News reads: “Retailers are responsible for ensuring that their products are compliant with Canadian regulations.”
It continues: “For products that are not compliant because they fail to meet Canadian labelling requirements, such as nutritional information or bilingual labels, many retailers and wholesalers provide the required information on a sticker label applied to the original product packaging.”
“For compositional requirements, such as the use of approved ingredients and additives, retailers are responsible for making sure that they import Canadian-compliant variations.”
In the meantime, Tony Badger plans to continue selling the nostalgic odes to Brit culture and cuisine.
“It feels like an infringement on personal rights and freedoms. I don’t believe anyone’s ever died from consuming a Toffee Crisp.”