About Foie Gras
Ducks and geese are force-fed cornmeal to make their livers grow up to ten times their natural size in order to produce foie gras. This force feeding is known as gavage. Force feeding causes a number of injuries: bruising or perforation of the esophagus; hemorrhaging and inflammation of the neck resulting from the repeated insertion of the pipe to the throat; and asphyxia caused by food improperly forced into the trachea. Wounds of the esophagus may subsequently become infected. Force feeding also results in numerous illnesses and disease, including hepatic lipidosis, bacterial and fungal infections, malnourishment, and lameness. For these reasons, mortality rates for force-feed ducks are 10 to 20 times higher than those for non-force fed ducks. Behavioral evidence shows that ducks and geese experience fear, as well as acute and chronic stress from the multiple daily force feedings and the pain associated with them.
Hundreds of restaurants around the world have stopped serving foie gras because of its inherent cruelty. Nationwide retailers such as Whole Foods, Costco.com and Aramark have also banned the sale of foie gras. Internationally, the foie gras ban has expanded fast as general animal welfare laws have been interpreted to prohibit the practice. Countries that banned force feeding of ducks and geese include Argentina, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Turkey, Holland, Israel, Switzerland and the UK.
Foie Gras bans in different countries
• United States
September, 2004: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs into law a ban on the sale and production of foie gras commencing in 2012. “This bill provides seven and a half years for agricultural husbandry practices to evolve and perfect a humane way for a duck to consume grain to increase the size of its liver through natural processes,” he said in his signing statement. “If agricultural producers are successful in this endeavor, the ban on foie gras sales and production in California will not occur.”
April, 2006: After a campaign by animal rights groups, the city of Chicago bans the sale of foie gras by a vote of 48 to 1, making it the first city in the U.S. to do so. The measure, enforced only through citizen complaints, fines restaurants $250, then $500 per offence after an initial warning. Upset with being told what they could and could not serve, in acts of civil disobedience a day after the ban, chefs who didn't typically have foie gras on their menus served it in various forms.
May, 2008: Mayor Richard M. Daley, who called Chicago's ban the "silliest" ordinance the city had ever passed, puts forward a bill to repeal it. The City Council votes to overturn Chicago's foie gras ban by a vote of 37-6.
May, 2012: Brandishing a less common strategy in the fight to ban foie gras, leading animal rights groups file a lawsuit against the USDA claiming that foie gras is inherently the product of diseased birds, due to their oversized livers, and therefore is illegal under existing USDA regulations.
July, 2012: California's foie gras ban takes effect. Violators risk fines of up to $1,000. The sole producer of foie gras in California, Sonoma-Artisan, ceased operations on July 1st.
August, 2003: Israel prohibits the production of foie gras, commencing from 2005. Unlike other countries, where the bans were decided legislatively, anti-foie activists ultimately earned a ruling from Israel's Supreme Court which concluded that force-feeding violated animal cruelty laws. In 2003, Israel had the third largest foie gras industry in the world (after France and Hungary).
August, 2003: Argentina bans foie gras production, saying "force feeding must be considered mistreatment or an act of cruelty to animals, in this case to geese or ducks."
March, 2001: Italy issues a legislative decree to ban foie gras production in 2004, calling force feeding "torture" and "barbaric."
• United Kingdom
August, 2000: The UK effectively bans foie gras production under an interpretation of its farmed animal welfare regulations.
December, 2011: While the UK has banned the production of foie gras, foi gras can still be served in restaurants. Most supermarkets, however, prohibit the sale. Celebrity butcher Jack O'Shea was escorted out of Selfridges supermarket for illegally selling foie gras to customers who knew his secret password. Two months later he was fired from his post.
• Europe Union
December, 1998: The EU's Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare publishes an influential, 89-page report on foie gras production that helps form the EU's policy.
June, 1999: The EU prohibits foie gras production in member states (effective from 2004, except where it is already "in current practice"), and calls for research into alternative techniques for its production that do not require force-feeding.
August, 1997: Poland bans force-feeding “for the purposes of the fatty degeneration of livers."
• Czech Republic
1993: The Czech Republic bans force-feeding, "particularly poultry in intensive farming."
June, 1991: Denmark bans force-feeding.
December, 1974: Norway bans force-feeding.
July, 1972: Germany bans force-feeding.
1965: Luxemburg bans animal force-feeding, unless an animal’s health specifically requires it.