Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Jenny Seagrove says Get ‘Torture in a tin’ off eBay

Actress and patron backs Viva! campaign after Amazon tumbles to pressure

Release date: 
Friday, November 22, 2013

ANIMAL CHARITY VIVA! and one of its patrons are calling on online marketplace eBay to follow Amazon UK by prohibiting the sale of foie-gras on its British marketplace* **.

Viva! patron Jenny Seagrove, says: “Amazon have led the way, so now we are appealing to eBay to stop using the unspeakably cruelly produced foie-gras. If they do, their compassion will be a light for others to follow." The popular actress rose to fame playing the lead in a TV dramatisation of Barbara Taylor Bradford's A Woman of Substance and the 1983 film Local Hero, as well as a long running stint on the BBC's Judge John Deed.

Viva! will be launching an online petition this week asking eBay to dump foie-gras as part of an international Day of Action on Thursday 21 November. A petition signed by over 100,000 people from across Europe, by British activist Fiona Munro, will be handed in to 10 Downing Street in the morning followed by a peaceful mass protest outside the French Embassy in London attended by groups L214, Animal Equality and Viva!.

As reported in the Daily Mirror, TV chef Gordon Ramsay dropped one his suppliers of foie-gras in light of undercover footage obtained at Ernest Soulard premises showing ducks confined in cages little bigger than their own bodies and force-fed so much grain that their livers expand up to ten times their natural size. Ramsay is not the only famous chef in Europe who has dropped Soulard ***. The footage sparked an investigation by Viva! and French group L214.

Viva! maintains that all of the foie-gras on sale on eBay is a product of similar forced-feeding. The process is so famously cruel that its production has been banned in Britain, yet its importation from France and other countries is not yet controlled.

Foie-gras is typically made from force-feeding ducks and geese so much grain that their livers expand up to ten times their natural size. Viva! say eBay should not be profiting off the back of something that might get them arrested on cruelty grounds if they produced it in the UK themselves.

Viva! also says that a consumer boycott is not enough, as recent figures show that Britain now imports more foie-gras than ever before – and, as a country, we now import more from France than Germany, Italy or Holland. The group says that the suffering endured by ducks and geese raised for foie-gras is so bad that all ethical retailers should shun it. The group is also calling on the Government to protect our sovereign welfare laws and exploit loopholes in trade laws to ban its importation.

Justin Kerswell, campaigns manager at Viva!, says: “Foie-gras is mostly produced 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. These sickening scenes are repeated daily across France and that suffering is being increasingly exported to Britain.

“eBay are the last online retail giant in Britain seemingly willing to profit off the sale of what are essentially the diseased livers of tortured birds. All major UK supermarkets have taken the ethical decision not to sell foie-gras and Amazon simply couldn’t justify making money from it, so what’s foie-gras still doing for sale on eBay? Greed is not a justification for making money off the back of something where the main ingredient is cruelty.”

For more information about Viva!’s campaign against foie-gras, visit www.viva.org.uk/foiegras  or call 0117 944 1000. 

ENDS information: 

Notes to Editors

* 18 November 2013: there are 98 entries for ‘foie gras’ in food on eBay.co.uk: http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/Food-Drink-/14308/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=foie+gras&LH_PrefLoc=2

* Amazon dumped foie-gras from their UK website after Viva! sent them a petition signed by over 10,000 supporters and customers. They took it off sale in October 2013. Previously, on the UK Amazon Marketplace grocery section there were around 78 products available to buy containing foie-gras.

** Farming minister tell consumers to boycott foie-gras, 15 December 2012 http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Somerset-MP-David-Heath-says-avoid-foie-gras/story-17594685-detail/story.html

*** Danish chef Thomas Rode severed ties with Ernest Soulard after seeing the footage: http://www.mx.dk/nyheder/danmark/story/12823517

Foie-gras is typically produced by force feeding ducks or geese such large amounts of food that their livers swell to up to ten 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 97 per cent of birds used in foie-gras production in France are ducks, most of which are tightly caged during force-feeding.

Around 38 million birds are killed for foie-gras each year in France, with around a million dying during the force-feeding process. In France only male ducklings are used – females, who do not put on weight as quickly as males are typically destroyed at a day or two old, often by being dropped into electric mincers. In Spain, some birds raised for foie-gras are killed without stunning as it is believed it makes the foie-gras taste ‘better’. Some foie-gras birds in Hungary raised for foie-gras production suffer painful live plucking of their feathers for the down industry, before being force-fed and slaughtered. Britain is a major importer of foie-gras. More information here: http://viva.org.uk/campaigns/foiegras/factsheet.html

Viva! wrote to David Heath to point out potential loopholes in trade rules which mean Britain could ban the importation of foie-gras.

Viva! has printed around half a million anti-foie-gras leaflets in the past five years, which have been distributed across the UK. The group has 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 – which came into effect in 2012.