Quebec language watchdog 'opens investigation' into 'Sweet Moosic' plastic spoons

MONTREAL – Quebec’s language watchdog has issued a statement insisting that it has not banned a certain type of frozen-yogurt spoon.

It has merely opened a yogurt-spoon investigation.

The Office quebecois de la langue francaise confirms that it has opened an investigation after receiving a complaint about the plastic spoons served by the American frozen yogurt chain Menchie’s.

Someone complained that the plastic pastel-coloured spoons contained English words like, “Sweet Moosic.”

So the OQLF opened a file. An inspector went to the outlet to look into the case, and an inspection report is underway. No decision has been made yet.

“That means no demands for correctional steps have been made to the company,” said the statement Friday.

“Every time the OQLF opens a complaint file, a member of its staff goes to the spot to check the situation. To do that, they might take pictures, request documents, or simply seek information from the business. They will also hand over a letter explaining the reasons for the intervention.

“After that, the OQLF analyzes the file and, if it sees a violation of the Charter of the French Language, it asks the business to take corrective measures.”

This file is still at the analysis stage.

The OQLF began its statement by expressing frustration at what it views as overblown coverage of its activities by “certain media.” It did not specifically mention CJAD, the English-language radio station that reported the yogurt incident.

CJAD also reported the recent “Pastagate” incident that embarrassed the language watchdog, as it made international headlines and led to the departure of the organization’s head.

The station reported Friday that the frozen-yogurt chain was looking to replace its spoon supplier, at considerable cost, because of the OQLF intervention.

But the statement from the language watchdog said the report was inaccurate and premature. It urged media to seek its side of the story before reporting on language flareups.

The OQLF received a six per cent budget increase, to $24.7 million, this year under the new Parti Quebecois government after it also received a smaller increase the previous year under the old Liberal government.

But the organization has also come under criticism from the PQ, which is generally more hawkish on language. The PQ government said the agency had been “overzealous” in its handling of files and would review its complaints procedure.

The number of complaints to the organization nearly doubled over three years, to 4,067 in 2011-12.

More than half of those files — 2,475 of them — were acted on and closed.

Of those 2,475 cases, corrective measures were taken 58 per cent of the time; “incentive” measures were applied in 17 per cent of cases; two per cent of cases were sent to the Justice Department for possible penalties; and 19 per cent of the time the original complaint was deemed to be unfounded.