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Rules force Brit Foods to close after 17 years in Parksville
There are mostly just questions remaining where Parksville's Brit Foods used to be.
"We sold our first pack of wine gums on August 29, 1997 in Qualicum Beach and since then I have either been retailing British products and/or importing them for wholesale," said Brit Foods owner Tony Badger. "I feel like I've had the last 17 years stolen from me."
Badger said that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) started seizing products last October that he and hundreds of other Canadian retailers have been importing for decades without incident, including Irn Bru, Lucozade, Penguin Bars, Marmite, Bovril, Horlicks and Ovaltine.
According to Badger, the CFIA told him the products contain meat or added vitamins that are not permitted in Canada.
"All I'm requesting is fair treatment," Badger pled, not hiding his frustration with what he called being singled out, pointing out the products are still widely available in this country.
"It is important to note that most of the food products in question are available in Canadian-compliant variations," CFIA manager of media relations Guy Gravelle e-mailed The NEWS. "Notable exceptions are beef products from the UK, which are not permitted in Canada due to concerns around animal health."
Gravelle directed The NEWS to a Jan. 25 news release explaining how the CFIA had recently detained a shipment from the UK because some of the products did not have the required documentation, but that other products, including Irn Bru and Marmite are allowed.
The e-mail says: "the CFIA 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."
Due to the delay in getting many of his main products, Badger closed the Parksville Brit Foods on Feb. 22, the Edmonton branch on March 22 and their final store, in Saskatoon, last weekend.
He said the process has been a nightmare and while the stores are now closed, he holds out some hope things can be resolved.
Badger's main complaint at this point is that he feels unfairly targeted and, if those products are dangerous, questions why are other businesses still allowed to import them.