Let’s hope the story helps advertise this restaurant! We need more eateries like this. Next time you’re near Alliston, do drop in and check the place out.
ALLISTON – The chef and co-owner of a popular Alliston gourmet fast food restaurant says the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is unfairly scrutinizing his business after being told to remove references saying they serve locally sourced products and naturally raised beef.
“Basically they are telling us if something comes from Barrie it’s not local, if something comes from Shelburne it’s not local,” said the Bistro Burger Joint’s Jay Klausen.
Klausen said he was completely blown away after receiving a registered letter from the Barrie branch of the CFIA and after speaking to an investigator about their demands.
The CFIA has told him the term local can only be used if the product was manufactured, packaged or processed in the municipality where his business is located or its neighbouring municipalities, which in this case includes Adjala-Tosorontio, Essa, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Innisfil, King and Caledon.
“No matter how many people I’ve talked to, they all think this is nuts,” he said. “We have Flying Monkeys brewery from Barrie here on tap and we say it’s a local craft brewery. Well, now we can’t say that anymore? It’s ridiculous and this is why something’s got to change.”
Klausen, who also runs the successful gourmet restaurant across the road from the burger joint, Bistro Seven Seven, was given 10 days to come up with a response to the order. If he doesn’t comply, he said he’s been told they could be slapped with a fine as high as $50,000.
The Herald reached out to CFIA media relations spokesperson Lisa Murphy for comment, but she declined, saying “The CFIA is not able to comment on confidential business information.”
Klausen was told the CFIA was taking action after a local resident complained about the restaurant’s use of the terms on its menus. The agency has not told Klausen who filed the complaint.
All of this is coming out of nowhere for Klausen, who says his mission as a chef has always been to source high quality ingredients as close to home as possible and to support local businesses.
He looks beyond his own backyard for certain products, including potatoes from Downey Potato Farms in Shelburne and Rainbow Trout from Manitoulin Island.
But considering the global market we live in, he views that as pretty close.
“I always thought 100 miles meant local,” he said. “Even if you are supporting it from somewhere much further away in Ontario, at least you’re still supporting your province.”
He said the vast majority of his ingredients can be found anywhere from a few minutes, a couple hours or up to a day’s drive from the restaurant, all of which he thinks falls well within the definition of local.
The CFIA has also taken issue with the restaurant’s “all natural” and “hormone free” descriptions of the beef used in their hamburgers, saying it’s not permissible under the agency’s food labeling guidelines.
The CFIA said claims like this must be “factual and verifiable” and cannot be used to “mislead the consumer.”
Klausen said this claim doesn’t make sense either.
His restaurant gets its beef from Field Gate Organics, a federally inspected organic farm in Zurich, Ont., where the cows are raised “as naturally as possible,” are pasture fed during the summer and hay in the winter, and are not injected with growth hormones or antibiotics….”