February 5, 2009
Foie Gras in Canada
Paté de foie gras, translated from French, means "fatty liver." This so-called gourmet delicacy is anything but delicate. Indeed, it is undeniably the product of extreme animal cruelty.
Factory foie gras farms intensively raise ducks and geese in large, enclosed barns. For the last few weeks of their lives the birds are forced into tiny wire cages, barely larger than their bodies, where they cannot even turn around or spread their wings. As social animals, they suffer greatly when confined to individual cages. Their suffering is further compounded by the fact that they are denied access to enough water to swim and preen, which they do naturally in the wild. This confinement can also lead to lesions of the sternum and bone fractures, as well as foot injuries from the cage floors. Two to three times a day, farm workers grab the immobilized birds and cram metal pipes down their throats, forcing huge amounts of food into them in seconds. The birds suffer tremendously during and after the force-feeding process. The excessive overfeeding (equaling one third the bird’s body weight - each day) causes their livers to become diseased and to quickly swell up to ten times their normal size. Soon they can barely stand, walk, or even breathe. This force-feeding can also cause painful bruising, lacerations and sores. They often die when the metal feeding tubes puncture their necks, when their stomachs literally "burst", or when force-feeding overfills them to the point of suffocation.
In Canada, half a million birds are killed for foie gras each year.
Due to animal welfare concerns, more than a dozen countries—including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel (formerly the world's fourth-largest foie gras producing nation), Norway, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland—have prohibited the production of foie gras. In 2004, California became the first U.S. state to ban the cruel force-feeding of birds and the sale of foie gras produced from force-fed birds, effective 2012.
What we’re doing
HSI is working to achieve strong legislation to stop foie gras production which would save millions of ducks and geese each year from this extreme and senseless cruelty. Internationally, HSI is committed to ending the misery and abuse endured by tens of millions of ducks and geese to produce foie gras. Our efforts include the following:
- In 2004, HSI was part of a coalition that helped pass a bill in California to ban both the force-feeding of birds for foie gras and the sale of foie gras from force-fed birds—the first time such a bill was enacted in the United States. We support similar humane legislation in other U.S. cities and states to protect birds from cruel force-feeding.
- We actively work with corporate retailers and restaurants to encourage them to leave foie gras off their store shelves and menus. For example, after working with us, Wolfgang Puck announced the implementation of a wide-ranging program to improve animal welfare in his supply chain, including not using foie gras.
- We have a number of lawsuits pending regarding the cruelty inherent in foie gras production—as well as a foie gras producers’ hundreds of violations of the Clean Water Act, taxpayer subsidization of foie gras production, and the production and sale of foie gras as an adulterated food product.
- Given the abuses inherent in force-feeding, it’s not surprising that a growing number of consumers are rejecting foie gras as too cruel to support. HSI provides information explaining the welfare issues with force-feeding birds for this "delicacy of despair."
- Contact your Minister of Agriculture and demand a national ban on foie gras production.
- Next time you go into a store or restaurant or supermarket that sells foie gras, please let the manager know that a product that comes from force-feeding ducks and geese is more than you can stomach and that you will not shop or dine there as long as they sell it. Then, let us know about it by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.