Everything You Need to Know About NYC’s Foie Gras Ban

As you’ve probably already heard, traditional foie gras is on the way out in New York City. According to an article in the New York Times, 1,000 restaurants in New York City currently serve Foie Gras, but that’s all going to change thanks to a ban that was overwhelmingly passed by the New York City Council last week. Want the details? We’ve broken it down for you:

WHAT IS FOIE GRAS? Foie Gras is French for “fatty liver.” It’s made from the diseased, enlarged livers of ducks or geese and is marketed as a “luxury” food. It’s often served as a pâté, but can be prepared in many different ways.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH FOIE GRAS? Birds raised for foie gras are typically forced to live in cramped cages or pens. Once they reach around 8 weeks old, farmers usually begin a cruel process of force-feeding, also known as “gavage.” During this process, which lasts from 12 to 21 days, farmers shove tubes far down the birds’ throats multiple times a day and pump two to four pounds of grain and fat into their stomachs — much more food than they’d naturally consume. As a result, the birds’ livers swell and become about eight times their normal size. The birds sometimes become too large to move and can die from pneumonia if they inhale the grain. Because workers are in a rush, it’s common for birds to suffer painful beak, neck, and esophagus injuries that often go untreated. They can also suffer from organ damage and failure. At the end of this cycle, the surviving birds are slaughtered.

HOW DID THE BAN COME ABOUT? Noting concerns over the extreme cruelty in foie gras production, New Yorkers became increasingly disgusted by the continued sale of the “delicacy” in so many NYC restaurants. Animal Equality, along with countless concerned consumers, lobbied city council members through phone calls, emails, and letter-writing campaigns.. We attended council hearings where the ban was discussed and gave testimony. We rallied together with Voters for Animal Rights to educate consumers and push for the ban. And finally, on October 30th, the City Council finally voted to pass the ban in a historic ruling!

A LANDMARK DECISION: The NYC foie gras ban is such an important ruling because this meant that not only will it be illegal for foie gras to be served in the city, it will also be illegal to import it, too. This means that countless birds will be spared from cruel force-feeding. Foie gras made without force-feeding will still be considered legal, but those selling it will have to show documentation of its production as proof, otherwise they will have to pay a hefty fine. This is a monumental step in improving the lives of ducks and geese.

WHERE ELSE IS FOIE GRAS BANNED? Foie Gras is so cruel that it’s been banned in several countries, as well as the state of California, and now, New York City.

HOW YOU CAN HELP BIRDS STILL BEING FORCE-FED: Animal Equality UK is working to make Britain foie-gras-free by demanding a UK import ban on the horrid “delicacy.”