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September 19, 2012

Judge Rules to Keep California Ban on Force Feeding Ducks in Effect

A federal court in Los Angeles denied a group of restaurants and foie gras producers’ motion to block enforcement of California’s ban on force feeding ducks to produce foie gras. The ban was originally enacted in 2004 with the support of veterinarians and animal protection organizations including The Humane Society of the United States. It gave foie gras producers a seven year phase in period during which they could have worked out alternative ways of producing foie gras that do not involve the cruel but standard industry practice of shoving a pipe down the ducks’ throats to force them to consume far more than they would normally.

Instead of seeking alternatives, foie gras proponents sat on their hands for seven years waiting for the law to take effect and then filed suit. However, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Wilson refused to prevent enforcement of the law while the merits of these claims are litigated.

The ruling on the plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction means that the law remains in effect and enforceable as the case proceeds to a final decision.

“No amount of legal maneuvering will change the fact that shoving pipes down birds’ throats to force them to consume vastly more than they would otherwise is grossly inhumane and unacceptable to the people of California,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president of animal protection litigation for The Humane Society of the United States.

The case is Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec v. Harris, 12-05735, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Los Angeles.

Facts

  • Due to the inhumane treatment of the birds involved, more than a dozen countries, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Israel (formerly the world’s fourth-largest foie gras producer), have either prohibited force feeding for foie gras production or have interpreted it as illegal under existing anti-cruelty laws.
  • Cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco have passed resolutions condemning foie gras. Retailers such as Safeway, Costco, Target and Whole Foods Market refuse to sell it. More than a hundred California restaurateurs dropped foie gras from their menus voluntarily before the ban was in effect.
  • Renowned chef Wolfgang Puck sent a letter to nearly 5,000 fine dining restaurants in California earlier this year to explain why he supports the law. He wrote, “As a chef, a businessman, and someone who cares about the humane treatment of animals, I’m writing to let you know why I support this particular law, and why I hope you’ll give it your full support as well.”

 

Media Contact: Anna West: 240-751-2669; awest@humanesociety.org

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