California ban on foie gras upheld by federal appeals court

Part of a six-course foie gras dinner prepared at the Melisse Restaurant in Santa Monica in 2012 to protest the ban on foie gras.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
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SAN FRANCISCO -- A California law that bans the sale of foie gras made from the force-feeding of birds was upheld Friday by a federal appeals court.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a district judge’s refusal to block the 2012 law, which prohibits the sale of products made from the force-feeding of birds to enlarge their livers.

Out-of-state producers of foie gras challenged the law on the grounds that it was unconstitutionally vague and regulated interstate commerce. The companies contended that the law attempted to ban all products made from force-fed birds, including duck meat and down jackets.


The 9th Cicuit disagreed, concluding the ban was aimed solely at foie gras, a delicacy made of fattened duck or goose liver. The producers who sued make it by feeding birds for 10 to 13 days through tubes inserted directly in their throats.

The ban applies to both “California entities and out-of-state entities and precludes sales within California of products produced by force feeding birds, regardless of where the force feeding occurred,” the panel decided. “Otherwise, California entities could obtain foie gras produced out of state and sell it in California.”

The court also said the producers had failed to show there was no other method of making foie gras than force feeding.


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