French producers shrug off New York foie gras ban

Toulouse (France) (AFP) –


French foie gras producers on Thursday shrugged off the decision by the city of New York to ban the controversial delicacy, saying their access to the US market was already barred by sanitary rules.

New York city council voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to ban from 2022 the sale of the French delicacy, which is made from the livers of force-fed ducks and geese.

"I am astounded that the country of the Statue of Liberty and liberalism can ban the consumption of a product that is healthy and sells well," Marie-Pierre Pe, director of the interprofessional committee of foie gras (CIFOG) which groups French producers, said.

"It's a symbol of French gastronomy which is being targeted but there is nothing like a ban to boost sales," Pe said.

Animal rights activists cheered after New York lawmakers ruled that it was cruel to force-feed ducks and geese to fatten their livers for human consumption.

But Pe downplayed the impact on the sector in the run-up to the end-of-year holidays, when the French routinely gorge on slabs of foie gras on toast.

"For us, there is going to be no economic effect as no French company exports (foie gras to the United States)," she said, explaining that French producers, respecting EU legislation, fell foul of American sanitary requirements.

Philippe Baron, president of the association for the promotion of foie gras from the southwestern Gers region, a bastion of the delicacy, confirmed that the ban "has no meaning from an economic point of view.

"The US is not a country that adopted this product," he argued, referring to French-made foie gras, while admitting that "from a symbolic point of view, it is a shame."

Some 80 percent of foie gras consumed worldwide is made in France.

According to CIFOG, France produced 18,000 tones of foie gras in 2018 and should match this in 2019.

But the US also has a number of producers, who have warned that New York's ban will badly affect their businesses.