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Foie gras producers blast attack on French ‘art of living’ as US court clears ban

Nicolas Tucat, AFP | Traditionally served during the Christmas holiday season, foie gras is regarded in France as part of the country's national heritage.

French foie gras makers have accused the US Supreme Court of bowing to “misinformation” from vegetarian lobbyists with its refusal to hear an appeal against a Californian ban on the delicacy produced from force-fed ducks and geese.

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The US court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by producers, including a Canadian non-profit organisation that represents duck and goose farmers, clearing the ban on a product that France considers part of its "cultural and gastronomic heritage".

The law, passed in 2004 by California in the name of animal rights, carries a fine of $1,000. It took effect in 2012, was suspended by the courts in 2015 -- but then upheld on appeal in 2017.

Producers of foie gras from Canada and New York, along with a California restaurateur, then appealed to the Supreme Court in defence of this delicacy they called "perhaps the most maligned food in the world."

They had support from France, the world’s largest foie gras producer, which called California's law "an assault on French tradition."

But the high court threw out the appeal with no explanation, meaning California's law remains in effect.

"It is unacceptable that such a decision, taken under the influence of the lobbying of some activists orchestrating regular misinformation on our products to advocate dogmatic vegetarianism, could endanger the image of an emblematic dish of the French art of living," Michel Fruchet, head of French foie gras producers group Cifog, said in a statement on Tuesday.

No "art of living" for them: force-fed ducks at a farm in  Caupenne, southwestern France.
No "art of living" for them: force-fed ducks at a farm in Caupenne, southwestern France. Gaizka Iroz, AFP

Foie gras is made from the livers of geese or ducks that have been fattened with grain by force-feeding. Sold whole or as a paté, it is considered a gourmet food in Western and Asian cuisine, but production through force-feeding has often been criticised as cruel by animal rights activists.

Hailing the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday, animal rights group PETA said the ruling marked a “victory for animals” over an “archaic” industry.

"Now that California can enforce this ban, PETA urges diners to blow the whistle on any restaurant that's caught serving this illegal and hideously produced substance," PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

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