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Language watchdog opens file on frozen-yogurt spoons

A customer fills a cup with frozen yogurt at a Menchie’s frozen yogurt shop in Toronto.

Deborah Baic/The Globe and Mail

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

It has merely opened a yogurt-spoon investigation.

The Office québécois de la langue française has confirmed that it is investigating a complaint about the plastic spoons used by U.S. frozen-yogurt chain Menchie's. Someone complained that the spoons bear the words "Sweet Moosic."

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

"That means no demands for correctional steps have been made to the company," the OQLF statement said 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."

The Menchie's 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-spoon 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 agency's head.

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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 disputes.

The OQLF received a 6-per-cent budget increase, to $24.7-million, this year under the new Parti Québécois government after a smaller increase the previous year under the Liberal government.

But the agency has also come under fire from the PQ, which is generally more hawkish on language. The PQ government says the agency has been "overzealous" in its handling of files.

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