Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Ramsay's foie-gras nightmare

Shocking scenes of suffering uncovered at supplier to British chef

Release date: 
Thursday, November 7, 2013

ANIMAL CHARITY VIVA! – who recently celebrated persuading internet giant Amazon to delist products containing foie-gras in the UK – is calling on celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay to dump the controversial food stuff after scenes of suffering were recorded on multiple French farms belonging to one of his approved suppliers.

Viva!, and campaigning French animal group L214, have launched an investigation after undercover footage was 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. The disturbing footage details what Viva! says is the “inevitable torture” required to produce foie-gras. 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.

The footage, which was recorded in August this year in the Vendée region of France, shows dead and dying ducks, some with bloody feathers. Many ducks are caked in feed and vomit, and some have debilitating eye injuries. Viva! says that it is some of the most disturbing evidence of animal suffering it has seen in its 20 year history. The charity is calling on Gordon Ramsay to dump foie-gras from his British restaurants and is sending him evidence of what was found at his supplier so he can see for himself.


 

Justin Kerswell, campaigns manager at Viva!, says:

“Gordon Ramsay has long defended his use of foie-gras at his restaurants, but I can’t imagine even he would dare defend what this investigation has uncovered. Ducks caged and filthy in their own vomit and clearly in distress, all to produce a dollop of fat as a choice on expensive menus that no one needs. How long can he say that taste trumps ethics when faced with this? 

“We have seen many images of animal suffering in our 20 year history, but this footage from a supplier to Gordon Ramsay has to rank as among the worst and almost certainly the most heart-breaking.

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. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to eat it – or be involved in its sale. It is quite simply torture in a tin.”

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

ENDS information: 

For more information about this media release, call Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000 or email justin@viva.org.uk. Hi-res photos available on request of foie-gras production.

Notes to Editors

Viva! will be sending footage from the investigation to Gordon Ramsay and asking him to take an ethical decision to not sell foie-gras at his British restaurants. Viva! will also be encouraging its supporters to contact Mr Ramsay. A representative of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay admitted in an email (dated September 2013) that Ernest Soulard was one of their “approved suppliers” of foie-gras. In the email is a claim that: “Soulard is an industry leader in terms of animal welfare”. Email available on request.

French animal group L214 is running a concurrent campaign in France asking Parisian restaurants that currently serve Ernest Soulard products to banish them from the menu (launching on Wednesday, 6 November).

Ernest Soulard is a major producer of foie-gras in France and works with around 340 farmers. The company promote themselves with an image of a duck in a bow tie. 50 per cent of all the products they produce are exported outside of France. Ernest Soulard website: http://www.canard-soulard.com/en/public/origins/who-are-we/

Earlier this year, Viva! persuaded Amazon to drop over 100 products containing foie-gras from its online British stores after sending them a petition signed by over 10,000 of their customers and Viva! supporters. The charity is now turning its attention to another online giant Ebay, who also currently allow the sale of foie-gras on their British marketplace. Viva! will be launching an online campaign and petition in November.

Former farming minister David Heath has recently suggested consumers boycott foie-gras, 15 December 2012 http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Somerset-MP-David-Heath-says-avoid-foie-gras/story-17594685-detail/story.html. Viva! has written to the Government to point out potential loopholes in trade rules which mean Britain could ban the importation of foie-gras.  

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://www.viva.org.uk/resources/campaign-materials/fact-sheets/torture-...

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.