Foie Gras Ban in California

Laws passed in 2004 have banned the sale of Foie Gras in the state of California.

Foie Gras is a delicacy that is made from the fatty liver of a duck or goose. The feeding practices associated with creating this food product has sparked controversy with animal rights groups, as a process called ‘gavage’ (force feeding) is traditionally used to create a fatty liver in ducks. That said many producers outside of France do use other practices such as natural feeding to produce foie gras.

In 2004 Californian legislators passed a law prohibiting the sale of any product derived from force feeding birds to enlarge their livers, but granted a seven and a half year grace period. The only ban of its kind in the United States came into effect on July 1 of this year.

Some restaurants are finding ways to skirt the law in California.

California has the biggest market for Foie Gras in the entire country. Most of the 350-400 eateries that served it before the ban have taken it off their menus, whilst a few are finding creative ways to continue to serve the dish. This is because the law bans the sale of foie gras in California- but says nothing about giving it away, and so some restaurants brazenly offer complimentary foie gras as an “accompaniment” to dishes on the menu.

Although some restaurants are in fact openly continuing to sell foie gras, no establishments have been reported incurring any penalties, which can be as extensive as $1000 per violation per day. This may be because Officials state the law is so vague that it is difficult to enforce (a factor that saw a similar ban in Chicago over turned).

Fans of foie gras are calling for a resolution to this conflict.

The Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards calls for stricter standards around the production of foie gras. This includes cage-free living, hand feeding and reasonable limits on fattening. Many restaurateurs are hoping that new legislation will sponsor a bill allowing foie gras production under new guidelines In California.

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Filed under: News by Dean's Catering

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