Today, a federal appeals court decided to uphold California's statewide ban on the production and sale of foie gras, the French delicacy of fattened duck or goose liver. The ban went into effect on July 1, 2012.
The plaintiffs - the Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec (a Canadian association of duck and geese farmers), California-based Hot's Restaurant Group and New York's Hudson Valley Foie Gras - asserted the ban interfered with interstate commerce and was too vaguely worded.
Judge Harry Pregerson wrote the opinion for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying: "Plaintiffs give us no reason to doubt that the State believed that the sales ban in California may discourage the consumption of products produced by force feeding birds and prevent complicity in a practice that it deemed cruel to animals."
It’s been eight years since former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill No. 1520 into law, prohibiting the sale and production of foie gras in the Golden State.
On Sunday, that ban from 2004 finally goes into effect.
“The bill would prohibit a person from force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size, and would prohibit a person from hiring another person to do so. The bill would also prohibit a product from being sold in the state if it is the result of force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size. The bill would authorize an officer to issue a citation for a violation of those provisions in an amount up to $1,000 per violation per day.”
But because of loopholes in the law, supporters of the fatty duck and goose liver say foie’ll be back.
In cooking, the process of clarification entails straining out extraneous muck from liquids so that they might be pure, clear and ideal for consumption. With this series on food terminology and issues we're attempting to do the same.
“It looks horrible and has a French name – which is already a very bad thing. Nobody needs to eat foie gras and it’s very expensive, so it’s a very easy target,” said Yanay.
Yanay is the General Manager and Vice President of Hudson Valley Foie Gras in Ferndale, New York. The 200-acre farm is the premier producer of foie gras in the United States, and provides the controversial delicacy to top chefs like Thomas Keller and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Debate continues over the methodology behind foie gras - a creamy delicacy created by deliberately overfeeding ducks or geese to enlarge their livers. A ban on food products that are made as a result of force-feeding animals goes into effect in California on July 1, but some chefs are protesting. Eatocracy's Sarah LeTrent spoke with CNNI's Pauline Chiou about the controversy surrounding the practice.
Previously - Foie gras laws causing a flap with California chefs
Foie gras: it's French for ‘fatty liver,’ and it's produced by deliberately overfeeding ducks or geese. The birds' livers become enlarged up to ten times their normal size and the result is many a chef’s delight: a rich, creamy delicacy enjoyed the world over. Foie gras can be seared like a steak or smoothed into a pâté, and it's at the center of a major legal flap between California chefs and animal rights activists.
The process of feeding the birds to enlarge their livers is called gavage. The ducks or geese are force-fed more food than they would usually eat, and therein lies the controversy. Opponents claim that the process of force-feeding the fowl is detrimental to their health and well-being. Foie gras enthusiasts argue that ducks and geese, which don't have a gag reflex, are used to swallowing fish whole and putting on weight for migratory flights.
In California, the practice of force-feeding was banned more than 7 years ago, but producers of the delicacy were given a grace period during which they could come up with a more humane way to feed the birds. In fact, the sole producer of foie gras in California endorsed the bill. The grace period is up on June 30. On July 1, it will be illegal in California to sell products that are made as a result of force-feeding animals.