This week, the French Ministry of Agriculture announced a ban on most of the country’s production of foie gras — or the “fatty liver” of ducks and geese — until August. No, it’s not based on welfare concerns but rather it’s related to “a particularly virulent strain of bird flu,” or H5N1 in southwestern France. The country supplies approximately 75% of foie gras around the world.
Though bird flu is a serious concern in and of itself, this temporary ban on foie gras production is a temporary reprieve for birds. Foie gras is considered a so-called “delicacy,” though there is nothing delicate about the way birds are treated to produce this culinary cruelty. Ducks and geese are force fed abnormally large quantities of food through pipes shoved down their throats, causing their livers to become diseased and swell up to ten times the normal size. After 28 days of force-feeding, the birds are slaughtered, and their engorged and diseased livers are marketed as “foie gras.”
Compassion Over Killing (COK) documented this egregious cruelty inside the largest foie gras factory farm in the US: Hudson Valley Foie Gras. Even though our hidden camera footage was taken during a “white-gloved” tour of the facility with the company’s best foot forward, our video shows birds suffering from being force-fed, being grabbed by their wings, and shackled upside down as they’re killed.
In 2012, we teamed up with Animal Legal Defense Fund, Farm Sanctuary, Animal Protection and Rescue League and concerned individuals in bringing a lawsuit against the USDA for allowing the sale of this diseased poultry, in violation of the Poultry Production Inspection Act (PPIA). This case, which aims to stop the sale of foie gras in the US, is ongoing.
No matter where it’s happening, cruelty to birds just won’t fly. Compassionate people everywhere agree that there is nothing refined about eating the grossly fattened liver of a tortured bird, and experts from around the world have concluded that the practice of force-feeding ducks and geese for foie gras is inhumane.
France should follow the lead of more than a dozen other nations, including Germany, Israel, Italy, Argentina, and the United Kingdom, by permanently saying au revoir to the archaic practice of force-feeding ducks and geese.
Instead of causing suffering, why not enjoy a healthy and compassionate Faux Gras Paté?