Success: York Still Foie-gras Free! | Viva!

Success: York Still Foie-gras Free!

Viva! claims success as York Festival won't serve foie-gras

Release date: 
Thursday, May 1, 2014

SUCCESS!: May 2014 - York Food Festival - although they state that they will not take a position on the issue - have confirmed that foie-gras will not feature in any events they put on themselves and it will not feature in any festival listings of third party events. York City Council have also reiterated its commitment to ensuring that areas under its ownership and management will remain resolutely foie-gras free. Thank you to everyone who wrote! 

Below is the original media release. The story was covered in the York Press.

Viva! urges York Food Festival not to put foie-gras back on the menu

ANIMAL CHARITY VIVA! will be writing to the organisers of this year’s York Food Festival – which returns in June and has a French theme for 2014* – seeking confirmation that they will respect York’s historic foie-gras free status.

Ahead of the final programme of events, Viva! are asking the organisers to make it policy that participants in the festival do not cook or sell the controversial dish.  Viva! will also be writing to the local council asking that they enforce the existing ban on selling the famously cruel foodstuff on council owned and operated premises and locations**.

The production of foie-gras is illegal in Britain because it would break existing welfare guidelines. However, because of a loophole in trade laws it is legal to import and sell it in this country. In 2007, York made history by becoming the first council in Britain to ban the sale of foie-gras at council properties. Viva! is asking the council to stand by this decision and remind the organisers of York Food Festival that foie-gras is not welcome in the city.

Viva! campaign manager, Justin Kerswell, says: “York made cruelty history back in 2007, so it would be a real shame to see foie-gras creeping back via the York Food Festival. We very much hope that the organisers are aware of and will respect the will of the city and comply with the ethical decision made by the council. We are also calling on the council to reiterate its commitment to animal welfare issues by making their policy clear in this instance and for any further events in York.

“Foie-gras really is an unusual and abject cruelty. It is the product of torture, with mostly caged ducks and geese feed so much grain that their livers expand by up to ten times their natural size. It beggars belief that something that would likely land a producer in court if they tried to farm birds in this way in this country can be imported with impunity.

“I think it is important to say that this move is not anti-French. Viva! works closely with groups in France, such as L214, to expose foie-gras cruelty. Our joint exposé into horrendous conditions found on foie-gras farms in France led to Gordon Ramsay dumping that supplier and made headlines across Europe. In France, the tide is also turning against foie-gras and we hope York will remain a bastion of compassion and that the organisers of the York Food Festival and the council can confirm that the festival will be foie-gras free.

“Of course, it is important to remember that whilst the cruelty of foie-gras is extreme all animals killed for meat suffer. The best way to end that suffering is to go vegan or at least start in that direction.”

For more information about Viva!’s campaign against foie-gras, visit  or call 0117 944 1000.

ENDS information: 

Hi-res images of foie-gras production are available on request from Viva!. Email or phone 0117 944 1000.

For more information about this media release, call Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000 or email

Notes to Editors

* "‘Yorkshire Produce - French Flavour’ will be the theme, tempting visitors to experience a fusion of Yorkshire and French cuisine and celebrating York’s links with France."

** York becomes the first city in the UK to ban foie-gras:

Viva!, and campaigning French animal group L214, launched an investigation in 2013 after undercover footage was obtained at a French foie-gras 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 investigation made the front page of The Daily Mirror and was reported across Europe. Footage from the investigation can be seen here:

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.

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:

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.