• Share to Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Email
    • Print

February 5, 2009

Foie Gras in Canada

Humane Society International/Canada

Paté de foie gras, translated from French, means "fatty liver." This so-called gourmet delicacy is undeniably the product of extreme animal cruelty.

Force-fed 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 and denied access to enough water to swim or preen. This confinement can 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 birds and cram metal pipes down their throats, forcing huge amounts of food into them in seconds. The excessive overfeeding (equaling one third the bird’s body weight—each day) causes their livers to become diseased and to swell up to 10 times their normal size. Soon they can barely stand, walk, or even breathe. This force-feeding can also cause painful bruising, lacerations and sores. The animals 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.

International response

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 committed to ending the misery and abuse endured by tens of millions of ducks and geese to produce foie gras:

  • 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. We support similar humane legislation in other U.S. cities and states.
  • We 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.
  • A growing number of consumers are rejecting foie gras as too cruel to support. HSI provides information explaining the welfare issues with this "delicacy of despair."

Learn more and take action

  • Sign Up

    Receive action alerts, tips, news and more

  • Take Action