Foie Gras Is Back on California Menus

California’s Taste for Animal Cruelty Overturns Foie Gras Ban

Foie gras, the fur coat of the food industry, is back on California menus after a federal judge overturned a statewide ban on the pâté made from fatty duck and geese livers under contentious force-feeding methods.

Long considered one of the cruelest foods for its required force-feeding to engorge the animals’ livers to create the rich flavor of foie gras, the ban was a triumph for the animal rights movement.

The foie gras ban went into effect in 2012, eight years after California voters first approved a ban on both the production and sale of foie gras in the state. “Now U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson has ruled that the ban clashes with an existing federal law that regulates the sale and distribution of poultry products,” reports NPR. While the judge overturned the ruling on the sale of foie gras pâté in California, it is still not permitted to be produced within state lines.

Two foie gras producers and Los Angeles-based Hot’s Restaurant Group filed suit against the ban the day after it went into effect in 2012.

Hot’s Kitchen, based in Hermosa Beach, Calif., “is among the many restaurants in the state that have been skirting the ban ever since it took effect, illicitly stashing and serving foie gras,” reports NPR. “Chefs and foodies likened the ban to Prohibition, and ‘duckeasies’ popped up to satisfy demand for foie gras, which usually sells at a premium in high-end restaurants. But by offering it free as a gift from the kitchen, restaurants argued they weren’t “selling” foie gras or violating the ban.”

Animal rights groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are planning on appealing the decision.

“A line will be drawn in the sand outside any restaurant that goes back to serving this ‘torture in a tin,’ and whoever crosses that line identifies themselves with gluttony that cannot control itself even to the point of torturing animals,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk told NPR in an email.

That hasn’t stopped restaurants from celebrating the judge’s ruling. According to NPR, restaurants from Los Angeles to San Francisco “are offering celebratory treats, from seared foie gras on a stick wrapped in pink cotton candy to foie gras and beef burgers.”

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: Zdenko Zivkovic