2 November 2019

Clarification of NYC Ban on Foie Gras

Proposed Int. No. 1378-A - 10/28/19
Banning the sale or provision of certain force-fed poultry products

Bird being force-fed

On October 30th, we posted NYC Passes Ban on Foie Gras Putting Animal Welfare First. The New York City Council voted to ban “the sale or provision of certain force-fed poultry products.” The ban, which is set to take effect 3 years after it becomes law (2021), provides an opportunity for farms to produce foie gras by other means.

Section 17-1902 of Proposed Int. No. 1378-A - 10/28/19 states:

For purposes of this chapter, it shall be a rebuttable presumption that an item in a retail food establishment or food service establishment having the label “foie gras” or listed on a menu as “foie gras” is a force-fed product. A party seeking to rebut such presumption shall provide documentary evidence proving that the product they are storing, keeping, maintaining, offering for sale, or selling is not a force-fed product as defined in this chapter. [Force-feeding so defined means “the practice of forcing, by any means, food or supplements into the throat, esophagus, crop or stomach of an animal.”]

As the law’s advocates have observed, and as the name of the law signifies: force-feeding will be banned but not foie gras production as such, if other methods to create “fatty liver” in ducks and geese are utilized. Here are two concerning non-force-feeding methods that could be used:

One of our members wrote to us in 2012:

“In the 1990s, I heard a speaker from Hebrew University explain that they no longer have to force-feed. Instead they destroy the hypothalamus and the birds then, lacking appetite control, force-feed themselves. So is that a way around the production ban?”

See also this NPR coverage of a “humane” foie gras farm in Spain:

This Spanish Farm Makes Foie Gras Without Force-Feeding

Also of interest is this Oct. 30th article in Politico that discusses the destructive role of “culture” (along with commerce) on campaigns designed to pass good laws for animals:

Council passes animal package, but ill-fated fur ban serves as cautionary tale

This alert does not mean to imply that the NYC ban on force-feeding is false or worthless. By the same token, activists need to be aware of, and ready to challenge, alternative bird-abusing methods for producing this product.

Thank you for your care and compassionate actions for the birds.
United Poultry Concerns

Ducks & Geese


Painting of Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal
Barry Kent MacKay – Artist and Naturalist