Local BC Food Products Take a Hit

I’m sitting here stunned upon reading in this week’s WestEnder that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has targeted a local micro-retailer and seized $20,000 worth of goods because the food doesn’t meet their French labeling standards. A few weeks back Home Grow-In was targeted by the agency whose two inspectors spent 6 hours combing through the store’s inventory.

There is so much wrong with this picture (additional coverage), I’m not sure where to begin:

  1. Let me get this straight. Is it now retailers’ responsibility to be up-to-date on all CFIA labeling criteria when selecting from thousands of products they might carry in their stores? Funny, I thought it was the CFIA’s job to ensure producers met food safety labeling criteria.
  2. Officially, the focus of the investigation isn’t the store, it’s the producers. Hmmm, that’s odd. Then why did the inspectors not stop by the producer’s facilities instead of nailing one of many small, local retailers and seizing goods the retailer already paid for but now cannot sell?
  3. Wow, way to slam small business and cut if off at the knees. A loss like that can kill a business where cash flow is critical. Not only does the business suffer, so do the employees and their families when they can’t get paid. Great ripple effect if you want more people and businesses in financial dire straits.
  4. Oh, and the producers of the pulled products?  Many are registered with the CFIA and believed their labels met all requirements — they also haven’t been contacted by the CFIA since the raid to let them know otherwise.
  5. Funnily enough, imported goods on shelves all over the city which are also not bilingually labeled are not generating investigations of such fervor.
  6. Then there’s the selective enforcement. What about the chain grocery stores down the street where the exact same non-bilingually labeled products are also sold? Why have they not been investigated?

Want to take some tangible action? Put your money where your mouth is and support local micro food producers and the retailers who provide a critical link in helping ensure quality local products are readily available to consumers.

As for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, they are here for our protection, and we need and want them to do a good job. It’s just a good idea to ensure they are playing by rules that are as fair for the little guy as they are for the big guys.