Saskatoon's Brit Foods closing after dispute with CFIA

The British import food store closed its last store in Saskatoon, on Saturday. Owner Tony Badger said he decided to close all three of his stores in the city after problems with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

British import food store has closed all 3 stores, including Saskatoon location on Saturday

Tony Badger closed his store Brit Foods on Saturday, April 5. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

After 17 years of selling imported British food products, Tony Badger says he is closing Brit Foods because it is no longer economical to keep the store open.

"Today is our last day, we will be closing up at 5 o'clock and making every attempt to open again in the near future," Badger told CBC on Saturday afternoon.

In November 2013, Badger received a letter from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) informing him that 18 different food products included in a shipment from the United Kingdom were in violation of CFIA laws.

These products included popular items like Marmite, Ovaltine and Irn-Bru.

Since then, Badger says he has not been able to successfully bring any more shipments back to Canada.

"Unfortunately, this last week with our first attempt to import goods ensuring compliance, we were notified that we were randomly selected for inspection and the shipment was referred on to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency," Badger said.

Jeremy Cunningham was one of many customers that came to Brit Foods Saturday, to stock up on their favourite products before the store closed. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

Jeremy Cunningham was one of dozens of customers that flooded Brit Foods' 8th Street location on Saturday to stock up.

"I always buy Glengettie Tea [here]. It reminds me of Wales, that is where I grew up," Cunningham said. "So that's going to be gone now. I don't know where I can find that."

Cunningham says he didn't expect Brit Foods to close.

"I was surprised at the stringent difference in the [Canadian and British] food laws," Cunningham said.

Badger tells CBC News that on Feb. 13 he requested an inquest into his dealings with the CFIA from Rona Ambrose, federal Minister of Health, but he said he has not received a response.

Badger said he hopes to open Brit Foods again in the future. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC News)

Badger says he hopes to reopen all three of his Brit Foods stores in the future. However, he admits this will be hard to do.

"Canadian suppliers, the majority, will no longer deal with us because they are afraid of retaliation from the CFIA," Badger said.

In an email to CBC, the CFIA says it "has met with the owner of Brit Foods on a number of occasions over the past few months to provide guidance on acquiring products that meet Canadian requirements."

In a statement issued in January, 2014, the CFIA told CBC that it had not banned Marmite, Ovaltine, Bovril, McVitie's Penguin biscuits, Lucozade, Mr Kipling pies and cakes, Yorkshire pudding mix, suet, and mince pies. 

The CFIA said that the issue was that some of the ingredients in the foods Badger was attempting to import were not allowed to be sold on Canadian shelves.

"It is important to note that most of the food products in question are available in Canadian-compliant variations. Notable exceptions are beef products from the U.K., which are not permitted in Canada due to concerns around animal health."

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