New York City Council is considering a bill that seeks a ban on selling or offering to sell foie gras made from force-fed birds. The council held a hearing last week on the bill brought by Lower Manhattan council member Carlina Rivera in January. She had said the force-feeding of birds to cause their livers to expand 10 times their normal size is done for a luxury product that is sold in less than 1 per cent of New York restaurants.
The bill would prohibit the sale or offer for sale of foie gras made from force-fed birds in food service establishments and would further prohibit the provision of such foie gras in any manner. Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by a fine no greater than $1,000, or no more than one year imprisonment, or both, for each violation. 25 out of 51 council members have backed the bill so far.
Animal rights activists oppose the method of preparing foie gras which literally means fatty liver. Ducks and geese are force-fed by sticking tubes down their throat to unnaturally fatten their liver which is considered a delicacy.
“We are not killing for consumption in its natural form. We are torturing an animal in order to alter it into a diseased state, so we can satisfy our addiction to taste,” veterinary internal medicine specialist Andrew Kaplan said during the hearing, Veg news reported. “Make no mistake, this is an addiction because this type of ‘food’ is neither healthy for consumers, nor is it reconcilable with what must be done to the geese in order to produce it.”
Christine Kim, a senior communication liaison for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, spoke on behalf of the mayor’s office during the hearing. “This administration has always demonstrated a strong commitment to animal welfare, and we know birds can suffer tremendously in the production of foie gras. That is why we support the intent of [Intro 1378],” Kim said.
Andy Wertheim, president of D’Artagnan, a top national seller of foie gras and other gourmet game told New York Post that the bill would drastically harm the business of small farmers in upstate New York, creating an industry domino effect with repercussions to the suppliers and companies. He insisted that foie gras products were typically raised humanely in the industry.
Animal-rights group Voters for Animal Rights said in a statement: “You’d think that passing this law would be easy—after all, who would support ramming a foot-long metal pole down the throat of a duck or a goose? Why would anyone willingly eat diseased liver? But the reality is that the factory farming industry will stop at nothing to keep making money off abused ducks and geese.”