In a disappointing turn of events yesterday, a federal court struck down a California law that prohibits the sale of foie gras, a cruelty-laden product made from the diseased livers of ducks and geese. This decision, which will hopefully be appealed by the state, means it can once again be sold in California.
California’s ban went into effect in 2012 and includes a provision that bans the production of this product — which involves shoving a tube down the birds’ throats and pumping food directly into their stomachs. This process is so cruel, it’s already been outlawed in over a dozen nations, including Germany, Israel, Italy, Argentina and the United Kingdom.
While the federal court’s ruling overturns the ban on the sale of foie gras in California, the production of foie gras remains illegal. However, it is produced in other states or countries and can still be sold in California.
Previous attempts to strike down the law under the federal constitution have failed. This time, however, the court ruled that a federal law regulating poultry products – the Poultry Products Inspection Act – overrides the California sales ban. According to the decision, by prohibiting the sale of foie gras, California overstepped its authority by imposing a condition on the sale of food made from birds that only the federal government can require.
We have long recognized the importance of the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) in relation to foie gras production. In fact, in 2012, we filed a lawsuit against the USDA for allowing the sale of foie gras in violation of the PPIA. This federal law requires poultry products from diseased animals to be condemned – including, as our complaint argues, the diseased livers from ducks. This lawsuit is currently on appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
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