Opinion: Hey, foie gras lovers, shove this new ban down your throats

Jorge Vargas
A worker uses a funneled pipe to force-feed a measured dose of corn mush to a Moulard duck in its pen at Sonoma Foie Gras in Farmington, Calif. in 2003.
(Eric Risberg / Associated Press)

Good news for ducks and geese and people who believe in their humane treatment: The ban on selling foie gras in restaurants and stores in California will soon be restored. A federal appeals court on Friday upheld the California law banning the sale of foie gras and overturned an injunction on the ban that had been imposed by a U.S. district judge.

This is all about stopping the inhumane practice of stuffing foot-long tubes down the birds’ gullets and feeding them until their livers swell to 10 times the normal size. It’s cruel, it’s vile, and it’s unnecessary. We can all live without foie gras.

I’m repulsed when I pick up the menu at a fine restaurant and see foie gras listed — just as I was when I read about talented chefs, whom I’d otherwise admired, rejoicing at the injunction a federal district judge issued against the state’s ban two and a half years ago. Now, they’re all whining about the ban being reinstated. They wax on about the joys and cultural importance of foie gras and the indignity of being told what they can serve or not serve.

Chefs are creative people who can concoct dozens of other fabulous delicacies that don’t require this degree of animal cruelty.

Well, get over it. You’re all creative people who can concoct dozens of other fabulous delicacies that don’t require this degree of animal cruelty. And you’ve had years to figure out how to live without foie gras. The state Legislature agreed in 2004 to ban the sale of foie gras but delayed the effective date until 2012, specifically so that restaurateurs and producers had time to prepare for it. Restaurateurs and producers have been suing ever since.

The 2015 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Steven V. Wilson said that the state law interfered with a federal law regulating poultry products. The appellate court panel disagreed. Ninth Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen wrote, “Nothing in the federal law or its implementing regulations limits a state’s ability to regulate the types of poultry that may be sold for human consumption.”

The foie gras ban is one of an increasing number of reasonable and humane measures for raising animals for food with less cruelty. More and more, people won’t stand for farm animals — including the ones they eat — to be raised under horrible conditions.


I’m not a vegan, I’m not even a vegetarian. But just because I eat animal products doesn’t mean that I will tolerate them being tortured before they are killed for food. And we Californians are not alone in this concern. As the court decision noted, numerous countries —including Italy, Germany, Britain and Switzerland — have bans on forced-feeding or foie gras products.

Let’s stop selling foie gras and move on.

Follow Carla Hall on Twitter @latCarlaHall

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