Foie gras laws causing a flap with California chefs
May 4th, 2012
09:30 AM ET
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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.
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Filed under: Animal Rights • Foie Gras • Food Politics


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