Producing fois gras for human consumption involves inhumane treatment of ducks and geese, including horrifying force feeding.
“Foie gras” translates to “fatty liver” in English. It’s known as an expensive, “luxury” food that’s actually made from a duck or goose liver that has become abnormally enlarged from a disease called hepatic steatosis, which is caused by the animal being force-fed large amounts of food. The liver is sold whole or ground up into a pâté or as another side dish.
Why is foie gras so cruel?
Not only is the act of eating a diseased organ extremely disgusting, it’s also supporting cruelty. Here are some of the things birds used for foie gras are forced to endure:
- Birds in the foie gras industry are confined in cramped pens or cages that are sometimes so small that the birds can’t even turn around. They’re denied everything that they need to be happy.
- Once the birds reach about 8 to 10 weeks old, the process of force-feeding begins and lasts around four weeks. Workers shove long metal tubes down the birds’ throats and pump their stomachs full of far more food than they would ever want to eat. This process, also known as “gavage”, is repeated multiple times a day. The force-feeding causes the birds’ livers to swell up to ten times their natural size.
- Force-feeding can also cause organ failure, injuries to the birds’ beaks and throats, and pneumonia. The wire cages can cause foot and leg injuries, and the intense confinement is mental misery for these normally curious and sensitive animals. At the end of this phase, the birds are slaughtered.
Animal Equality conducted multiple investigations at foie gras farms in France and Spain since 2012. Shockingly, one of the farms in France welcomes public tours and allowed us a look inside at the birds’ living conditions and the force-feeding process. What we found at all of these farms were birds confined to small wire cages suffering from breathing difficulties, eye infections, and broken wings and beaks. The birds are forced to endure extreme cruelty and abuse during the production of foie gras.
Other impacts of foie gras
Not only does foie gras violate animal welfare, but it’s devastating to our environment. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, foie gras operations have violated numerous environmental laws. For example, the largest foie gras farm in the US, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, has violated multiple Clean Water Act obligations over the last decade and has faced numerous inspections and thousands of dollars in fines.
Foie gras also poses a significant risk to public health. Due to the abuse and neglect the birds face, their immune systems weaken, making them more susceptible to diseases such as avian influenza (bird flu). This is concerning because bird flu is contagious to humans. In the US, the most recent avian flu outbreak was in 2014-2015. However, France had a more recent outbreak in 2021 with the majority being at foie gras farms.
Countries who have banned foie gras
Foie gras production is so cruel that it’s production has been banned in several countries such as the UK, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Turkey, and Israel. In the US it’s been banned in the entire state of California and in New York City.
But despite the fact that foie gras production has been prohibited, it’s important to note that the exportation of foie gras to and from other countries still poses a major problem. Because there’s still a demand for the product, large corporations continue to profit from this cruel method of food production. And in major cities around the country like Portland, OR for example, many upscale restaurants offer it as a menu item. So as long as the sale of foie gras remains legal, thousands of ducks and geese will continue to suffer.
After Animal Equality’s successful two-year campaign, India now prohibits foie gras imports, which means that it’s illegal to sell or buy it anywhere in the country. We hope that other countries will join India in stopping both the production and sale of foie gras.
What you can do
Though more and more people are learning the truth about how foie gras hurts animals, there’s still more work to be done! The best way you can help ducks and geese suffering from this cruel “delicacy” is by refusing to eat it and by sharing this information with family and friends so they’ll avoid foie gras, too.
Original source: https://animalequality.org