California Wants Foie Gras to Be Illegal Again

Foie Gras (AP)
Associated Press

That was quick.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Wednesday that the state would appeal a federal judge’s decision to overturn the statewide ban on foie gras, a delicacy made from the enlarged livers of ducks and geese.

Just one month ago, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson had overturned California’s ban on foie gras, ruling that the ban infringed on the regulatory power of the federal government.

Under the ban, first signed into law by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 and implemented in 2012, California poultry producers were banned from force-feeding birds “for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size.” That effectively ended the production of foie gras in the state, because that is the process by which the dish is made.

Poultry producers had argued that California’s ban encroached on the Poultry Products Inspections Act, a federal law mandating the sale and distribution of birds nationwide.

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

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the widely-expected appeal will be heard in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Unsurprisingly, animal rights groups were pleased with the announcement.

“California has the right to ban the sale of such a cruel and inhumane product,” Humane Society spokesman Paul Shapiro told the Chronicle.

Poultry producers insist that the birds do not suffer any harm during the process.

In a statement, two attorneys for New York and Canadian poultry producers who had initially challenged the ban said, “We’re very confident that the district court’s judgement will be upheld on appeal… California does not have the right to ban wholesome, USDA-approved poultry products, whether it’s foie gras or fried chicken.”

After the ban was overturned in January, restauranteurs across the state happily re-added the dish to their menus. However, only the sale of foie gras was permitted by the overturning of the ban; production of the dish is still forbidden in California.


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