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Federal Judge Lifts California Ban on Foie Gras

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A federal judge on Wednesday overturned California’s ban on foie gras, a delicacy made from duck and goose liver, ruling that the statewide ban was in violation of federal law.

According to the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled that the statewide ban, which had been in place since 2012, was unconstitutional because it infringed on existing federal regulations regarding poultry products.

“California cannot regulate foie gras products’ ingredients by creatively phrasing its law in terms of the manner in which those ingredients were produced,” Wilson reportedly wrote in his ruling.

Under the ban, first passed by the California legislature and signed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004, California poultry producers were outlawed from force-feeding birds “for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size,” according to the UK Guardian. That effectively eliminated foie gras from restaurant menus, as that is precisely the process by which foie gras is made.

According to the Guardian, animal rights groups supported the initial ban, saying the process of making foie gras was harmful to the animals. Foie gras producers say the birds are unaffected during the process.

Restaurant owners and chefs across California greeted the lifting of the ban with widespread praise and giddy anticipation.

“Foie gras is legal in California and will be on my menu tonight,” Ken Frank, chef at Napa Valley’s La Toque restaurant, told the Los Angeles Times. “I haven’t been without foie gras a single day since the ban went into effect, but tonight is the first time I’ve been able to charge for it.”

Frank explained to the paper that he had been serving diners at his restaurant complimentary servings of foie gras along with cards that read, “this is a gift and an act of political protest against a law we think is unwise.”

“Tonight we’re going to tear the cards up and have a hell of a party,” Frank told the Times.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society, as well as several other animal rights groups, reportedly vowed to appeal the ruling.

In the meantime, a number of restaurants have announced they had begun serving foie gras as of Wednesday night, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The restaurants serving the legal-again delicacy include San Francisco’s Dirty Habit, St. Helena’s Goose & Gander, and Napa’s Torc. In the Los Angeles area, restaurants serving the delicacy include Santa Monica’s Mélisse.

 


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