Several animal advocacy groups including the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Compassion Over Killing, the Animal Protection & Rescue League and Farm Sanctuary, along with pro bono attorneys from Steptoe & Johnson, have joined forces to bring a lawsuit against the USDA claiming that the production of foie gras violates the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), which prohibits the sale of diseased poultry.
“The USDA is effectively exempting force-fed foie gras from the scrutiny required by federal law, allowing foie gras producers to market diseased organs as gourmet delicacies,” said ALDF executive director Stephen Wells.
Foie gras production involves force-feeding restrained ducks by shoving metal pipes down their throats multiple times a day, called gavage, and pumping them full of grain, or corn and fat, which leads to acute hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease, which in turn leaves ducks suffering with malfunctioning livers that are ten times their normal size. The practice is considered cruel and inhumane and has already been banned in a dozen countries, while several others have a ban on force-feeding.
The complaint also addresses concerns about human health, citing “abnormally high levels of toxins” that accumulate in ducks and geese, along with a study published by the National Academy of Sciences about the associated risks of developing secondary amyloidosis for people with inflammatory diseases who eat foie gras, in addition to the connection to its consumption and other diseases, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Meanwhile, California is set to impose the first statewide ban of foie gras in the U.S. on July 1, 2012, but chefs are still trying to fight it.
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