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Foie gras: Norwegian chains boycott delicacy

Five of Norway's leading gourmet food chains have joined a nationwide boycott of foie gras, in the latest move against the controversial French delicacy that will no doubt anger producers in France.

Foie gras: Norwegian chains boycott delicacy
A french farmer during the "gavage" - Source: Jérôme S/Flickr
The movement against foie gras, the controversial French delicacy made from force-feeding geese and ducks (gavage), appears to be growing.
 
After foie gras was banned in California and Israel banned it from being imported, the latest action targeting the delicacy has been taken Norway, where gourmet food chains have decided to take a stand.
 
Meny, Ultra, Centra, Jacobs and CC Food have all stopped stocking the food, which is made by force-feeding geese to create an unusually large and fatty liver.
 
"Meny is now stopping the sale of foie gras and recalling all the products already in our stores," Meny wrote on its Facebook page to explain the decision.  "We have decided that we will not sell products where animal welfare is
not addressed, even if the sale is permitted under Norwegian law." 
 
Karen Frivik, a press spokesperson for Norway's Animal Protection Alliance told NRK that the ban was a "victory for the animals and for the long-term work that the Animal Protection Alliance has put into this issue" .
 
The organization is now lobbying the the Norwegian authorities to introduce a total import ban on foie gras.
 
The force-feeding method used to make the food, known in France as "gavage", has long been condemned by animal rights campaigners for the suffering it causes the animals. Although the practice is banned in Norway, it is still lawful to import the resulting livers.
 
France accounts for nearly 80 percent of the total foie gras production, producing about 22,000 tons a year. 
 
A poll published earlier last year suggested the love for foie gras among the French may be dwindling.
 
According to the poll, almost one third of French people (29 percent) now refuse to buy foie gras for “ethical reasons linked to animal suffering”.

The Opinion Way poll commissioned by the French animal rights association L214, also suggests the French are fairly evenly split on whether the production of foie gras through force-feeding should be banned, with 44 percent in favour and 55 percent against prohibition.

There is clearly, however, still a hard core of Gallic foie gras-lovers out there, with 22 percent of respondents saying they prefer foie gras that has been produced by force-feeding the animals.

France’s Rural Code states that foie gras must be made by force-feeding, but French producers – aware that public opinion, at least abroad, is hardening against the delicacy – have been looking at alternative methods of production.

In November, French celebrity chef Joël Robuchon ditched his foie gras supplier after animal rights activists raised questions about its practices. 
 
A version of this story first appeared on our sister site The Local Norway.

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FOIE GRAS

Ban ‘barbaric’ French foie gras, Danish politicians urge EU

Danish left-wing party SF (Socialist People’s Party) wants a debate on whether it should be legal to produce and sell French delicacy foie gras in the EU.

Ban 'barbaric' French foie gras, Danish politicians urge EU
File photo: Benoit Tessier / Reuters / Ritzau Scanpix

The party, a parliamentary ally of the governing Social Democrats, wants foie gras banned in the European Union and has called its production “barbaric”.

“It is one of the most barbaric ways food can be produced. These birds are treated very badly, and we don’t think it’s okay,” SF spokesperson on food Carl Valentin said.

“Danes have actually already morally rejected this to a large extent. Consumption is falling fast [in Denmark, ed.] and production is already illegal in Denmark. That’s why we’re focusing on this issue,” Valentin continued.

Discussion of the matter by politicians follows a decision by management at Torvehallerne, an upscale food market in Copenhagen, to recommend its concession holders not to sell the French dish, a paté made from the livers of geese or ducks.

Torvehallerne made the decision after customers posted complaints on its Facebook page over the sale of foie gras at Ma Poule, a stand at the market which sells French specialities.

Although production of the delicacy is banned in Denmark, importing it is not, as such a ban is prevented by European Single Market laws.

Foie gras production involves overfeeding geese and duck for the last two weeks before they are slaughtered. This causes them to develop fatty liver disease, with the organ expanding to six to ten times its normal size, according to Danish animal welfare charity Dyrenes Beskyttelse.

90 percent of foie gras now comes from geese, rather than duck, which was previously the preferred bird, according to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA). Although the majority of production is in France, the foodstuff is also made in Belgium, Bulgaria, Spain and Hungary.

EU rules do forbid foie gras from being produced in places where it has not previously been made, according to the DVFA website.

Valentin said he wanted the union to outlaw what he termed a “dish for the upper classes”.

“The reason I mention the upper class is that this is very much a dish for the upper classes. I think it’s sad that there’s so little focus on animal welfare and more thought goes to pleasing taste buds than protecting animals,” the SF spokesperson said.

READ ALSO: Why Danish milk cartons now carry three helpful words

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