Walking around IGA in Montreal, English rights activist Harold Staviss said he recently noticed something on the pre-packaged food products that rubbed him the wrong way.
“The ingredient list is solely in French, and people who have allergies and who are not completely bilingual and/or fluent in French may have an issue,” said Staviss.
“It becomes a health and safety issue.”
Staviss said he brought up the issues to Sobeys, the umbrella company for IGA, in September, but nothing was changed.
He started a petition to call on the food retailer to include English-language ingredients to its pre-packaged products sold in the Greater Montreal area.
“I’m not saying to have it in Trois-Rivières, Trois-Pistoles, Saint-Jérôme – in the Montreal area,” said Staviss.
“You have a great proportion of anglophones who may not understand French and, even if you are bilingual, these terms are technical.”
Some shoppers Monday said they hope Sobeys will make the packaging bilingual.
“If they want to have their customers keep coming back, I think it’s very important that they sit down and consider this,” said Côte Saint-Luc resident Shirlee Nadler.
In a statement to Global News, Sobeys said the reason the ingredient list is not bilingual on products packaged in store is primarily due to logistics.
“The number of characters permitted on labels issued from our ingredient list management systems is restricted and forces us to make difficult choices to comply with provincial legislation,” it states.
“The health and well-being of all our customers is important to us. Should they have questions about the list of ingredients, we invite them to ask the heads of our store departments to help them translate the labels.”