California Foie Gras Ban Upheld by Supreme Court — Cruel Force-Feeding of Ducks Still Banned
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Posted on 18 Oct 2014 18:34

I wrote about the controversy surrounding foie gras in an earlier post.

There, I explained about the California Statute that banned the production of foie gras by force-feeding or "gavage."

Since 2013, some proponents of this method of foie gras production have been trying to get this ban lifted, and it went all the way to the Supreme Court.

This week, the U.S Supreme court upheld the California statute and the sale of foie gras produced by force feeding, and indeed, the practice itself is still banned in California.

According to a story in The Dodo:

In 2013, a group of foie gras supporters filed a motion to block the state’s ability to enforce the ban. But this motion was quickly denied. They appealed, and were denied again in a higher court, the Ninth U.S. circuit court of appeals in August 2013.1

The Supreme Court saw it no differently than the lower courts, and they decided that the law was within the state's authority to enact laws to prevent animal cruelty. This sets a precedent which will surely affect the way food is produced all over the United States.


Ducklings being readied for foie gras production.


Ducklings being readied for foie gras production.

Many people, only recently exposed to the controversy, do not realize that it is possible to produce foie gras without such methods. If you want to read more about it click here.

I am among those who believes that this practice is cruel, and indeed, unethical. I had included a video on this page, which showed this method of foie gras production that is banned in not only California, but in many European and other countries. Several other states are considering such a ban. The video, which was very graphic and disturbing, has since been removed from YouTube.

Update January 7, 2015: California Foie Gras Ban Is Overturned

As of December 31, 2014 (last Wednesday), the California Foie Gras ban was reversed by U.S. District Judge, Stephen V. Wilson, who ruled that the California law was unconstitutional because it interfered with federal laws that regulate poultry products. The previous argument against the ban, which was unsuccessful, had been based on the ban improperly trying to regulate interstate commerce. In the new hearing, plaintiffs argued, successfully, that California did not have the power to interfere with federally approved poultry products because they're already covered by the Poultry Products Inspection Act. Under this act, the federal government has exclusive powers to determine what ingredients belong in poultry, making it illegal for California to require foie gras to be made from birds that weren't force-fed.

Judge Wilson agreed, saying "California cannot regulate foie gras products' ingredients by creatively phrasing its law in terms of the manner in which those ingredients were produced."

Although many chef's are rejoicing over the ruling, it is unlikely it will hold up as the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the way poultry has to do with inspection of poultry at slaughterhouses and has nothing to do with the way that the poultry is fed. There does not seem to be anything in the Poultry Products Inspection Act which would block a state from banning a product based on animal cruelty concerns. The ban, after all, was based on perceived cruelty at farms. It is hard to see how the Federal Poultry Inspection ACt, which governs slaughterhouses, could supersede this decision. Read the rest of the story in the LA Times.

1. Cronin, Melissa. "Supreme Court Says No To Foie Gras, Upholds California Ruling." The Dodo. N.p., 14 Oct. 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2014. <>.
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