Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Viva! welcomes foie-gras ban in California

Group was one of four that sponsored historic bill

Release date: 
Friday, June 29, 2012

CAMPAIGNING animal group Viva! has expressed its relief that California is now on the verge of implementing a ban on the sale of foie-gras – over seven years after then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger originally agreed it.

The ban on foie-gras (which will come into place on July 1) was supported by many celebrities, including Alicia Silverstone, Mary Tyler Moore, Kim Basinger, Paul McCartney and Chrissie Hynde. Sponsors of the Bill (1520) that led to its eventual ban were Viva!USA, Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, Farm Animal Sanctuary and LA Lawyers for Animals.

Viva! hopes that it will lead to other states following suit. The group is also reinvigorating its efforts for a ban on the importation and sale of foie-gras in the UK – and is working with other groups to secure a ban across the EU.

Justin Kerswell, Viva! campaigns manager, says: “July 1 2012 is a historic day and a decisive vote for the welfare of animals. It is no wonder that Viva! originally came up with the slogan ‘torture in a tin’, because that’s exactly what foie-gras is. A foodstuff cooked and eaten by those who check their humanity and compassion in at the restaurant door. We are all for freedom of choice, but with freedom comes responsibility – and eating foie-gras is about as far away from responsible eating as you can get.

“Sadly, in the UK, it is still perfectly legal to import and sell foie-gras because of free-trade rules. This makes a mockery of our sovereign welfare laws, as the Government has made it clear that it would be illegal to produce here. However, we are heartened by the fact that fewer and fewer places appear to be selling it as consumers reject foie-gras in ever growing numbers. Even the majority of French people now agree that it is cruel*. Really, the time has come to boot foie-gras production back into the history books where it belongs.

“However, those who have rightly had their consciences troubled by the horrific suffering of the millions of birds and ducks still subjected to the terrors of forced-feeding should also spare a thought for other animals raised for food. There is no such thing as humane meat. The best way to end the suffering of animals is to not eat them. It’s as simple as that.”

For more information about this media release, call Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000 or email justin@viva.org.uk. More on Viva!’s campaigns against foie-gras at www.viva.org.uk/foiegras



Notes to editor

* 60 per cent of French people now agree that foie-gras production is cruel. France still produces the majority of the world’s foie-gras.

Viva!USA’s then campaigns director lauren Ornelas spearheaded the campaign in the United States, with support coming from activists in the UK. 

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 most recently led a campaign to persuade the BBC to dump foie-gras from its cookery programmes. It also persuaded supermarket chain Lidl and wholesalers Makro to remove foie-gras from sale. House of Fraser also recently 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.