Judge States That Foie Gras Production Is ‘Absolutely Cruel’

For Immediate Release:
December 9, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

San Francisco

PETA has just learned that during a hearing on Wednesday concerning California’s appeal to reinstate its ban on foie gras, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson—one member of the three-judge panel hearing the case—explicitly stated that foie gras production is “absolutely cruel.”

He refuted the argument used to strike down the ban—which is that the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) preempts California’s foie gras ban—by pointing out that the PPIA addresses ingredient requirements, not how animals raised for food are treated. Referring to ducks and geese raised for foie gras, he explained, “[T]hey’re treated cruelly. You have to open their mouths, you stuff a device all the way down their throats—jam it in—so that it affects their livers. Their livers become bloated.”

When the State argued that the PPIA does not apply to “how a bird was fed well before it reaches the slaughterhouse,” Pregerson in agreement, elaborated, “Not only how the bird is fed, but it’s how the bird is cruelly fed. That’s what it’s about.”

When an attorney for poultry producers tried to dodge his question about whether ducks enjoy being force-fed by saying, “California doesn’t get to determine the enjoyment of a New York duck,” Pregerson fired back with “But do you think the duck enjoys that? They have to grab the duck and hold it. And jam a thing through its throat.”

“Judge Pregerson’s statements echo the thoughts of every kind person and humane organization in the world,” says PETA Foundation Director of Animal Law Jared Goodman. “His strong statements inspire confidence that California’s foie gras ban will be reinstated, and as soon as it is, PETA will call on other states to follow suit.”

California enacted the ban on foie gras sales in 2012 in response to the cruelty inherent in foie gras production, during which workers repeatedly jam pipes down ducks’ throats and pump up to 4 pounds of grain and fat into them to sicken them and enlarge their livers. One day after the ban went into effect, a restaurant group, poultry producer Hudson Valley Foie Gras, and others sued the state to invalidate the law, arguing that it was preempted by the PPIA. In 2015, a federal judge agreed and overturned the ban. The state appealed, and on Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held oral arguments.

More information about California’s foie gras ban is available here.

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