Amazon UK Bans Foie Gras; France Protests, Claiming 'Real Product Quality' And Respect For 'Animal's Well-Being'

By Lizette Borreli on October 8, 2013 5:17 PM EDT

A Foie gras dish reinterpreted by Chef Anand Gaggan is seen at the Gaggan restaurant in Bangkok
A Foie gras dish reinterpreted by Chef Anand Gaggan is seen at the Gaggan restaurant in Bangkok

Britons overseas will no longer be able to purchase foie gras — the surprisingly low-carb French delicacy made from the liver of a fattened goose or duck — from the online retailer Amazon UK. The site announced its decision to eliminate the sale of the dish and place it on its list of prohibited animal products alongside "whale, dolphin, and shark parts," Yahoo! News reports

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Viva!, an animal rights campaign group, speculates that the ban may have resulted from the pressure they placed on the retailer earlier this year. Viva! supposedly showed Amazon UK managers a video with "evidence of the abject suffering" caused by the fois gras production process. However, Amazon UK would not comment on the specific reasons behind the ban.

According to the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the ducks or geese used to produce foie gras are fed using a technique called "gavage" - a force-feeding process that occurs approximately two to three weeks before they are slaughtered. The animals are confined in a cage and fed a strict diet high in protein and starch to promote rapid liver growth. As a result, the liver becomes enlarged and allows for the build-up of excess amyloid deposits. This creates an extremely fatty and low-carb liver meat.

Both Amazon UK and Viva! have received the support of more than 10,000 petitioners who signed the Viva! petition this year against the sale of the fatty liver on the British website. However, not all countries are on board with the decision to eliminate the duck and geese dish.

"I regret Amazon's decision," Guillaume Garot, France's minister for agribusiness, told AFP. "I once again want to point out the efforts made by French producers over the years to maintain real product quality while respecting the animal's well-being."

While the fatty liver is a popular food staple in France typically consumed on Christmas and other special occasions, it has developed a bad reputation in other parts of the world, like the UK. Foie gras has not only been removed from Amazon UK, but has also been banned from the kitchens at the House of Lords and in several countries, according to France 24.

In the United States last month, a panel of three federal judges in California refused to overturn the state's 2012 foie gras ban. Producers of the delicacy filed a suit that claimed the 2012 ban - based on an argument that foie gras production is a form of animal cruelty - was too vague and therefore considered it unconstitutional. However Judge Harry Preferson upheld the ban. "The specific example of force feeding under the statute - feeding a bird using a tube so that the bird will consume more food than it would consume voluntarily - is how plaintiffs feed their ducks during the gavage (force feeding) stage," wrote Preferson in his decision. "[The] definition of force feeding is not vague."

Recently, the Animal Legal Defense Fund filed a petition in an attempt to force the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to put out warning labels on all foie gras products that read "NOTICE: Foie gras products are derived from diseased birds." The USDA chose not to use the warning label, and efforts by the Fund to ban foie gras at the federal level have, to this point, failed. States can ban the dish at their own discretion.

The French minister Garot continues to defend foie gras production, not only because of the "gastronomic heritage" it represents, but also because of the job it creates. He also remains optimistic in finding new prospects for his country's product. According to Yahoo! News, Garot will shortly travel to South Korea in an attempt to promote foie gras to emulate the recent market success the product has made in Japan. 

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