When Montreal tried to change how artisanal sausages were sold

Montreal's sausage makers had put their product in their store windows for decades. In 1994, that became a problem for city inspectors.

In 1994, city inspectors were concerned that handmade sausages weren't being refrigerated

New rules for Montreal sausage-makers

27 years ago
In 1994, Montreal food inspectors didn't want to see sausages displayed in store windows anymore. 1:54

It seemed Montreal's sausage makers felt encased.

That's because city inspectors did not like seeing the way some of them stored their sausages: in window displays and not in a refrigerator. And those inspectors were demanding they make changes to their practices.

"In a city famous for its sausages, the people who make them like to let them hang around for a while," the CBC's John Curtin reported on Prime Time News on July 28, 1994. 

"They say that's good for the flavour, not bad for your health."

No more window displays...

Georges Roy said he'd followed the directions of city inspectors and then he saw an immediate drop in sales of sausage at his Montreal shop. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)

City inspectors didn't agree, with Curtin telling viewers their view was "a little sausage can be a dangerous thing, especially when its makers don't control the acidity level of the meat and don't put the meat in the fridge."

At that point, the city had ordered that such sausages be moved "into the cooler," as Curtin put it.

Georges Roy, the owner of Slovenia Meat, said he'd followed the inspectors' instructions and promptly seen his sales sliced by half. He told Prime Time News that he felt the sales drop was in part due to the fact his customers couldn't see the sausage being offered for sale.

Angelo Perusco, a sausage maker, did not support having to make the change and he'd started a petition against the inspectors' actions, which his customers were signing.

"If you don't like it, don't look at it, don't eat it," one of those customers told Prime Time News.

...until the city reversed course

In 1994, city inspectors wanted to see Montreal sausage makers refrigerate their products. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)

"But inspectors say they won't look the other way," Curtin told viewers, throwing to a clip of inspector Jean Troalen saying those sausage makers who did not comply could see their products seized or even destroyed.

They could also be taken to court.

"More than a city tradition is at stake," Curtin said. "Fines start at $800."

In October 1994, the city would back off its prior position and allow sausages to be hung on hooks again, outside of the refrigerator.

But, as the Montreal Gazette reported, the city expected more information about just how those sausages were made to ensure those methods did not pose any health risks.

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