Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Tell the BBC to dump foie-gras from cookery shows

Contact the BBC

Email: via online form

Phone: 03700 100 222

Post: BBC Complaints, PO Box 1922, Darlington DL3 0UR

Tell the BBC to dump foie-gras!

Have you received the finding from the BBC’s Complaint’s Unit? Escalate to the top and challenge the findings by writing to the BBC Trust.

Have you received a response saying that you can take your complaint to the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit? If so, use our pre-prepared response to do so!

Have you had the standard BBC response? Use our suggested email to follow up your complaint and keep the pressure on!

 

Despite neither being British nor legal to produce in this country, the BBC has allowed foie-gras to feature extensively in the series The Great British Menu.

Please contact the BBC to ask them to take an ethical decision to make it policy that foie-gras is not used on its cookery shows and not promoted via their websites. Use our suggested email below or write your own.

Email: via online form
Phone: 03700 100 222
Post: BBC Complaints, PO Box 1922, Darlington DL3 0UR

“Dear BBC

I am very disappointed to see that foie-gras has been featured extensively in the series The Great British Menu.

Foie-gras is the grossly enlarged liver of a duck or goose and is essentially a disease, marketed as a delicacy. Birds raised for this 'gourmet' cruelty are force-fed enormous quantities of food through a long metal pipe, three times a day. This process of deliberate and painful overfeeding continues for up to a month by which time the birds' livers have swelled to ten times their normal size. Every year, around a million ducks die during this period of force-feeding.

Foie-gras is not produced in Britain, as the Government has made it clear that its production would contravene existing animal welfare regulations, but sadly it is still perfectly legal to import it.

It is my understanding that foie-gras is not served to staff at the BBC, which is commendable. However, allowing it to be cooked and served on TV helps publicise it and the abject cruelty behind its production. I also find it highly offensive that part of my licence fee indirectly goes towards doing so. Why can’t chefs be told not to cook with it?

I am asking that the BBC take the ethical decision to dump foie-gras from its programming.”


Follow up message
Use our suggested email below if you have recieved the standard response from the BBC. Keep up the pressure! (make note of your complaint reference number from your reply as you will need this for your follow up message)

“Dear BBC

I was extremely disappointed in your response to my complaint about foie-gras being featured on the Great British Menu.

Whilst it is true that the sale of foie-gras is not banned in the UK this is only because of a technicality. Its production would be illegal here. However, free trade rules allow its importation.

This makes a mockery of our animal welfare laws. Yet it is being used and promoted on a show that purports to champion the best of British. Even worse, whilst you acknowledge that it is controversial, I am not aware of there ever being any discussion on the morality of using it on cookery shows. In other words, the BBC is providing an uncritical platform for a very unBritish cruelty.

You say that many enjoy using foie-gras. However, most people are rightly disgusted and horrified by the way it is produced. According to the corporation’s own guidelines, I do not believe that the BBC is keeping in touch with “generally accepted standards”.

Also, you have a “responsibility to protect the vulnerable from harm and avoid unjustifiable offence”. Not only is the BBC not protecting the tens of millions of birds who suffer horrendously you are actually promoting that suffering.

I reiterate my call: to stop using foie-gras on your cookery shows. If you do not agree, please let me know how I can escalate my complaint.

Yours faithfully

[your name and address]”


Escalate your foie-gras complaint to the BBC! 

The BBC is continuing to be belligerent about allowing foie-gras to be used – and essentially promoted without criticism – on its cookery shows. If you have already made a complaint (and thanks to the hundreds of you who have done so!) you may have had a response saying that you can escalate your complaint to the corporation’s Editorial Complaints Unit.

Unbelievably, part of the BBC’s attempts to deflect criticism is to say that complaints on this matter are part of a lobby. Well, of course they are! However, no one would complain about foie-gras at the BBC unless they believed that it shouldn’t be used. Please use our response below. Or even better write your own.

Remember to include your postal address. Ensure your complaint is made within 20 days of receiving your previous reply. If you have not already made a complaint please send one of the earlier emails on this page first.

Mail: Editorial Complaints Unit
Room 5170
White City
201 Wood Lane
London 
W12 7TS

Email: ecu@bbc.co.uk (including full postal address as responses are made by post)

Remember to include your complaint code (should be on your reply)

“Dear BBC

Thank you for your response. Whilst I find it totally unsatisfactory, I do welcome the opportunity to make my case to the Editorial Complaints Unit.

Whilst I may support the views of certain groups, I want to make it clear that the views below represent and agree with my own personal views – and I wish them to be treated accordingly.

I find the libertine attitude of the BBC when it comes to the use of foie-gras deeply disturbing. I do not accept that foie-gras is British food and I am not sure how you can justify that assertion. I also do not understand how you can compare foie-gras to other food stuffs regularly used on the corporation’s cookery shows. Whilst it is certainly true that there are other debates to be had on the wider subject of the use of meat and dairy, I do not think it is helpful to move away from what is the core complaint in this instance. Namely that we are talking about a product that is illegal to produce in Britain because it would break existing animal welfare guidelines. Indeed, the EU has now banned the production of foie-gras in any country that does not currently have an industry. That is the important distinction and that is why I believe that the BBC should make an ethical ruling in this case.

I also reject the notion that it would be impractical to prevent foie-gras from being used in BBC cookery programmes. Surely you have measures in place to prevent chefs from cooking animals protected by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). What about dog or cat meat from South Korea or China or how about horse meat? Would the BBC be happy for chefs to use these if they were feeling “creative and adventurous”?

The BBC editorial guidelines state that: “Across our output as a whole, we must be inclusive, reflecting a breadth and diversity of opinion.” It also says: “… the omission of an important perspective, in a particular context, may jeopardise perceptions of the BBC's impartiality.” Despite this, I am not aware of the BBC ever examining the serious welfare implications of foie-gras production in your programming. Yet, currently, foie-gras is being actively promoted without any objective criticism regularly on your cookery shows. I assert that is a serious breach of your editorial guidelines and certainly does bring into question the BBC’s impartiality.

Indeed, how can the BBC claim with regards to its use of foie-gras?: “Impartiality lies at the core of the BBC's commitment to its audiences. We will apply due impartiality to all our subject matter and will reflect a breadth and diversity of opinion across our output as a whole, over an appropriate period, so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or under-represented. We will be fair and open-minded when examining evidence and weighing material facts.” Without any debate on the BBC about the ethics about the use of foie-gras I would strongly argue that this area is “… knowingly unreflected” and “under-represented”.

The guidelines also state that: "Contributors expressing contentious views, either through an interview or other means, must be rigorously tested while being given a fair chance to set out their full response to questions." I would argue that using foie-gras is expressing a contentious view, yet none of the chefs have been challenged about its use on air. Again, this is a clear failure to follow guidelines and I would ask why is this the case? The guidelines also state that: “We must not knowingly and materially mislead our audiences with our content.” I would argue that the BBC is misleading audiences by not balancing the use of foie-gras by also telling audiences about its contentious nature.

Finally, I would also like reiterate that I find it deeply offensive that my licence fee is being used to fund programmes that uncritically feature a product that causes abject suffering to tens of millions of birds each year to produce a product that would be illegal to produce in this country. Again, I believe that this is the majority view and so therefore is likely to breach your guidelines.

I look forward to your response and I request you tell me what avenues of complaint are open if I am not satisfied with your response.

Yours faithfully”
[your name and address] important


Please write to the BBC Trust! 

Please only write to the Trust is you have already made a complaint to the BBC and then followed that through to the BBC Complaints Unit. This is in response to the findings of the Complaints Unit.

It is important to quote your complaint reference (found on your letter from the BBC). Use this letter as a basis, or even better write your own.

Mail: Lucy Tristram, Complaints Advisor
BBC Trust Unit
180 Great Portland Street
London W1W 5QZ

Email: trust.editorial@bbc.co.uk

“Dear Lucy

Whilst I appreciate the reply I received from Colin Tregear (from the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit) regarding my complaint about the use of foie-gras on the BBC’s recent Great British Menu, I am not satisfied with the response and ask that the BBC Trust review his findings.

I believe that the BBC is using smoke-and-mirrors to try and justify allowing the use of foie-gras in its programmes without at least challenging its use. Allowing it to be used and not challenging this controversial dish – which I will remind the Trust would be illegal to produce in the UK because the Government has said that it would break current welfare guidelines – is tantamount to tacit approval. Even worse, it is a free advert which can only lead to encourage some viewers to buy more of it because the BBC has failed in its duty to inform them of the welfare implications of its production.

I appreciate that what one person may find offensive another will not. However, I do not agree that the production of foie-gras falls within “generally accepted standards”. No supermarket will sell it and it is bought by a tiny minority of British people. Again, I remind you that the production foie-gras would be illegal in the UK as the Government agrees that its production is not acceptable. The fact that the trade into the UK is legal is merely because of a loophole in the law. In reality, most people in Britain would be against anything that caused such animal suffering that it would cause an offence in Britain and the fact that the BBC received – by its own admission – so many complaints strongly suggest that, yes, the use of foie-gras is a serious breach of the corporation’s editorial standards because the use of foie-gras falls outside of “generally accepted standards”.

As for due impartiality, I do not agree that the fact that this was a cookery programme in anyway should mean that the welfare implications of foie-gras should be glossed over. In his letter to me, Mr Tregear admits that he appreciates that “… many people consider the manner in which foie-gras is produced to be completely unacceptable and therefore do not believe is should be used under any circumstances”. Therefore that I cannot agree that it is not tantamount to a “contentious view”. The reason that no discussion took place was because the programme makers decided not to do so. This does not mean that they should not have done so – and I still maintain that the use of foie-gras is tantamount to a contentious view. I also do not agree that the audience was not misled. Failure to discuss the provenance of foie-gras is in real terms no different than telling a deliberate lie. They both mislead the audience – and means that, in the audience’s eyes – foie-gras is essentially given the stamp of approval by the BBC.

I still also disagree that foie-gras should be used on a programme called the Great British Menu. It is not produced here and would be – as I have already said – illegal to produce here. Its inclusion on menus again gives the impression that it is somehow British and accepted as so. I believe that this misleads viewers and gives a false impression.

Therefore, I still believe that the BBC has broken its own guidelines by allowing the use of foie-gras on its cookery programmes. So my complaint stands and I look forward to your comments.

Please make an ethical decision – and one within your own guidelines – and ban foie-gras at the BBC.

Yours sincerely

[your name and address]”


Find out more ways you can get active to make Britain foie-gras free!