One day after the California ban on foie gras went into effect, a Canadian duck-farming organization, a New York producer of foie gras and a Los Angeles restaurant group sued the state in an attempt to block the law.
Filed on Monday by the Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec, Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Hot’s Restaurant Group, the lawsuit accused the nation’s first statewide ban on foie gras of being “unconstitutional, vague and interfering with commerce laws.”
The group’s lawyer asked to freeze the ban which made it illegal to force feed ducks and geese for the purpose of enlarging their livers and selling products made from the force fed birds until the law can be worked out in the court system. Michael Tenebaum said the lawsuit would help clarify the vague wording of the term “force fed.”
Chef Sean Chaney, co-owner of Hot’s Restaurant Group, Inc. said, “I think the injunction will help all chefs from the risk of unknowingly breaking the law, and give our legislators time to fix it. There’s so much vagueness in the whole thing.”
Animal rights groups pointed out that the companies involved in the suit had nearly eight years to get clarification on the wording and intent of the law. The ban was passed in 2004, but went into effect July 1, 2012. The law was postponed to give producers of foie gras time to find alternative methods to force feeding, but none were ever introduced.
Foie gras, which means “fatty liver”, is produced by inserting a tube into the esophagus of ducks and geese several times a day and forcing more food into their bodies than they would “voluntarily” consume. The goal is to fatten and enlarge their livers so the delicacy of foie gras can be created. The livers of the birds can become up to ten times their normal size and weight. The process is stressful and cruel.
In addition to claims of vague wording, the lawsuit said the ban places unfair responsibility on restaurants and salespeople to know the origin of a product and how a particular bird was fed during its lifetime. It also interferes with the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Photo Credit: KenWang