A local community grocer is out $20,000 after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found products in her corner store failed to meet bilingual label requirements.
Inspectors pulled 108 items from Deb Reynold's shelves at the Home Grow-In Grocer, tucked away on 18th Avenue at Columbia Street in Vancouver's Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, during a surprise visit June 17.
"I was quite surprised that it came down to bilingual," Reynolds said. "I told them, 'After six hours, if all you can come up with is that this doesn't have bilingual labelling then my suppliers must be doing good.'"
The small but bustling community corner store boasts locally grown and produced items from micro-farmers in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan/Similkameen Valley. In all, the inspectors flagged 11 suppliers -- a third of the store's stock -- which failed to meet labelling requirements, including providing French translations and nutritional fact tables.
One dairy supplier was removed because their labels said "feta" or "Monterey jack" but failed to include the word "cheese." While the cheese issue was fixed with stickers, Reynolds donated the majority of the food to local charities so it wouldn't go to waste.
Reynolds was given a policy manual and nine pages of recommendations for her and her suppliers, some of whom are refusing to affix new labels because their local agricultural groups have allegedly told them previously that bilingual labels aren't required for products staying in-province.
"To me it was a waste of taxpayers' money and time to go through my individual little suppliers," Reynolds said. "I'm just somebody who is trying to support the local B.C. economy."
I shop regularly at this little shop. The first couple times I went in, they offered to give me my groceries on credit and pay the next time I came in, even though I had never been in before. They only take cash, you see. Or cheque. They only stock local, in-season produce and foodstuffs--one of the only places in the area you can get it. It is truly a lovely place, a gem. When I heard this story on the radio, they said that CIFA wasn't even there for the French--they were there because of a report that they sold yogurt without expiry dates, which turned out to be false. Incidentally, probiotic yogurt doesn't really need an expiry date. It stays good forever in the fridge. Only industrial stuff does.