Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Ken Livingstone and Prince Charles get into bed over cruel pâté

London mayor lends his support to campaign against foie-gras

Release date: 
Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ken Livingstone has confirmed his commitment to animal welfare by lending his support to a campaign by campaigning organisation Viva! to rid Britain of foie-gras, the "delicacy' which has been dubbed "torture in a tin'. The move comes weeks after Prince Charles confirmed to the group that he had instructed his chefs not to use the controversial pâté. London's famous Fortnum & Mason store also dropped duck foie-gras after a peaceful demonstration by Viva! before Christmas. In a letter* to the group, Mr Livingstone stated: "I am happy to say that the Greater London Authority is a foie-gras free zone and I support Viva!'s campaign for a foie-gras free Britain.' Foie-gras is produced by force feeding ducks or geese large amounts of food so that their livers swell to up to ten times the normal size. A pipe is shoved down the bird's oesophagus and food is forced into the stomach. The process is repeated two or three times daily for two to three weeks until the birds develop fatty liver disease. The birds are then slaughtered. Over 90 per cent of birds used in foie-gras production are ducks, with around a million birds dying during force-feeding each year. Viva! campaigns manager, Justin Kerswell, says: "Ken Livingstone and Prince Charles might appear to be strange bedfellows, but it only further illustrates that Brits from all walks of life are united against the abject cruelty involved in the production of foie-gras. We congratulate Ken for taking a stand. 'there is nothing humane about mechanically inducing disease in a bird by forcing a pipe down his throat and making him consume such an abnormal quantity of food that his liver expands many times its normal size. The commitment from the GLA against foie-gras is an important step towards a cruelty-free capital. We urge all London businesses to follow suit, and for consumers to reject this cruel p't' and go vegetarian.' ENDS Notes to Editors * A copy of the letter from Ken Livingstone to Viva! is available on request. Foie-gras is not produced in Britain, as the Government has made it clear that its production would contravene existing animal welfare regulations. However, tons are legally imported each year. Minister Lord Rooker has told Viva! the Government are currently considering loopholes in EU legislation which may allow a ban on imports of foie-gras, because of public morality and animal welfare concerns. Its production has been outlawed in Poland, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Israel. The group persuaded UK branches of Lidl and Makro to pull foie-gras and was instrumental in Harvey Nichols decision to drop it. The BBC has told Viva! that they will not cater with foie-gras in the future and are considering dropping it from future editions of shows such as Masterchef. The Marriot hotel chain has also said that it is likely they would remove foie-gras from future menus. Viva! have produced their own satirical on-line film on foie-gras, which can be viewed at www.viva.org.uk/foiegras. A fully referenced factsheet on foie-gras production can be read at For more information on the campaign, photos or video of foie-gras production, contact Justin Kerswell or press officer Helen Rossiter on 0117 944 1000 or visit www.viva.org.uk/foiegras