Foie gras ban in New York City

It is celebrated as a success for animal rights activists and animal welfare, but some gourmets may be less pleased with the recent decision of the New York City Council. On October 30, it was decided that the sale of foie gras will be banned from October 2022. The law still has to be signed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, but it is already clear: If restaurateurs do not adhere to the ban, fines between 500 and 2000 US dollars (around 490 to 1900 CHF) will be due.

“This is a historic day for the rights of animals in New York City,” Matthew Dominguez of the animal rights group “Voters for the rights of animals” is quoted in various media reports. So while animal rights activists are celebrating, foie gras producers announced that they would legally rise to the barricades against the ban. After all, it is also about jobs that are threatened by the ban on foie gras. The decision could therefore lead to a legal dispute. A similar thing happened in the US state of California. After the production and sale of foie gras was banned in 2004 and the law came into force in 2012, this was again overturned by a federal court in 2015. The final decision on the ban was not made until January 2019, after 15 years of litigation.

Foie gras or fatty liver has a long history. Today, France, as the main production country and home of haute cuisine, in which foie gras enjoys a special status, represents this tradition – but the Egyptians and Romans of antiquity already valued it as a delicacy and founded the practice of overfeeding animals. This is exactly what animal rights activists criticize, because the fattening of the geese and ducks has to suffer. The animals are force-fed for weeks so that their livers become fat and swell many times over. In the meantime there are efforts by some small producers to offer an “ethically justifiable” alternative to foie gras without a stopper and in some countries the production of foie gras is already banned, but not its sale or consumption.

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