Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Government urged to ban un-British cruelty

As 219 pubs across the country drop 'cruel' foie-gras for Christmas

Release date: 
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CAMPAIGING animal group Viva! has written to Defra minister Jim Paice to ask him to investigate ways of banning the importation of a foodstuff so cruel that its production is effectively banned in this country. Viva! maintain that - as a sovereign nation - Britain should be able to unilaterally ban products that would not meet basic UK welfare guidelines. The group believes that EU legislation would allow such a ban because it both offends public morality and causes suffering to animals*. Viva! is accusing places that sell foie-gras, and the people who buy it, as being 'un-British' - and is also calling on a public boycott of establishments that list it on their menus on the run up to Christmas. The move comes after Vintage Inns - who have 219 pubs across the country and are owned by publican giants Mitchells and Butlers - agreed to remove it immediately from the menu after being alerted to the cruelty inherent in foie-gras production by Viva! and its supporters**. A spokesperson for Vintage Inns told Viva!: “In response to feedback from many of our guests we took the decision to remove foie-gras from our menu with immediate effect. It is not a product we will serve again in the future. The move was welcomed by Viva!. The group's campaign manager, Justin Kerswell said: “Foie-gras is barbarism masquerading as a delicacy; obtained by imprisoning birds in cages so tiny they can't move, by forcing a pipe down their throats and force feeding them until their livers swell to ten times their natural size. No wonder it has been dubbed 'torture in a tin'. Congratulations to Vintage Inns for taking such decisive action to end cruelty by removing foie-gras from their festive menus in over 200 pubs. We are delighted that this ethical policy will extend all year round. We ask consumers everywhere to give foie-gras the elbow and have a veggie Christmas instead. “We also hope that Jim Paice will take seriously the concerns of us - and every other right thinking Brit - by taking moves to ban the importation of foie-gras into this country. It is crazy that production is so cruel that it is banned here - but there is nothing to stop its importation. It makes a mockery of our animal welfare laws. For more information about Viva!'s campaign against foie-gras, visit www.viva.org.uk/foiegras or call 0117 944 1000. ENDS For more information about this media release, call press officer Helen Rossiter or Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000 or email helen@viva.org.uk or justin@viva.org.uk . Notes to Editors * See attached letter to Jim Paice. The legislation referred to is Part III, Title I of the Treaty Establishing the European Community. ** Mitchells & Butlers run over 2,000 pubs in Britain. As well as Vintage Inns, it owns pub and bar chains including Browns, All Bar One and Harvester. For more information see: http://www.mbplc.com/index.asp'pageid=611. It is Viva!'s understanding that the decision will become policy in all of these establishments. Foie-gras is produced by force feeding ducks or geese such large amounts of food that their livers swell to up to 10 times normal size. A pipe is shoved down the bird's oesophagus and food is pumped into the stomach. The process is repeated two or three times daily for two to three weeks until the birds develop fatty liver disease. Over 90 per cent of birds used in foie-gras production are ducks, most of which are tightly caged during force-feeding. Over 30 million birds are killed for foie-gras each year in France, with around a million dying during the force-feeding process. Britain is a major importer. Foie-gras is not produced in Britain as the Government has made it clear that its production would contravene existing animal welfare regulations. However, it is legal to import it. Previous Government minister for animal welfare, Ben Bradshaw, encouraged a consumer boycott. Viva! has also persuaded supermarket chain Lidl and wholesalers Makro to remove foie-gras from sale. House of Fraser also bowed to public pressure and is now completely foie-gras free while many independent restaurants across the UK have permanently removed the product from sale. In 2004, Viva! successfully campaigned in California for legislation outlawing the production and sale of foie-gras. In 2008, Prince Charles declared his opposition to foie-gras after being sent information by Viva!: http://www.viva.org.uk/mediareleases/display.php'articlepid=120