Oread Daily

A Chicago City Council committee yesterday voted to ban the sale of the liver "delicacy" known as foie gras in Chicago restaurants. If the proposal is approved by the full Council, Chicago will join the state of California and a host of countries that have already banned the pricey appetizer. They include the United Kingdom, Denmark, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Israel.

Alderman Joe Moore, who proposed the Chicago ban, and has been ridiculed by some as a result, says passage of the measure would, "… mean that there will be fewer restaurants serving this product and, hence, fewer ducks and geese being tortured to create this product." The Alderman says the force-feeding of geese and ducks to procure the fatted liver delicacy is inhumane.

Earlier this year, Chicago Mayor Daley ridiculed the proposed foie gras ban as a Big Brother-style government intrusion.

Didier Durand, chef/owner of Cyrano's Bistrot, 546 N. Wells, spoke in opposition to the ban on behalf of the Illinois Restaurant Association. "To take it off our menu would be destroying a time- honored culinary tradition. Every restaurant has the right to serve what they want."

But to animal lovers across the world, the practice of force-feeding
30 million animals a year until their livers swell to up to ten times their normal size is a cruel practice which causes untold suffering. In recent years the movement to abolish force-feeding for foie gras production has gained momentum worldwide

In France, however, politicians have just approved a draft law that protects foie gras and declares it a part of the French national heritage.

Foie gras - translated literally as "fatty liver" - is big business in France, which produces 70 per cent of the 20,000 tons made worldwide each year and accounts for 85 percent of global consumption. The industry employs 30,000 people and the average French person eats the delicacy at least ten times a year.

"How on earth can you say that a barbaric custom, consisting of sticking a funnel or a pneumatic pump down the throat of a caged animal, is a tradition of high culture?" asked the Citizens Initiative for the Abolition of Force Feeding on its website.

The reactionary stance of France over foie gras flies in the face of EU directives dating from as far back as 1998, which warn that: "No animal shall be provided with food or liquid in a manner ... which may cause unnecessary suffering or injury".

Foie gras is made from the grotesquely enlarged livers of male ducks and geese. Birds have up to 2 pounds of food per day pumped into their stomachs through long metal pipes that are shoved down their throats. The cruel ordeal often causes severe injuries that make it painful or even impossible for birds to drink. Those who survive the feedings suffer from a painful illness that causes their livers to swell to eight to 10 times their normal size. Many birds become too sick to walk and are reduced to pushing themselves across their cages with their wings. When the birds are slaughtered, their livers are sold for foie gras.

The Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Welfare for the European Union found many examples of abuse as a result of force- feeding, including:

• Birds are routinely confined to small cages or crowded pens.

• Birds are force-fed tremendous amounts of feed via a 12- to 16- inch plastic or metal tube, which is shoved down their throats and attached to a pressurized pump.

• The force-feeding may be performed twice daily for up to two weeks for ducks and three to four times daily, for up to 28 days for geese.

• Force-feeding causes the liver to increase in size about 6-10 times compared to the normal size for a bird.

• Increased liver size forces the abdomen to expand, which makes moving difficult and painful. An enlarged abdomen increases the risk of damage to the stretched tissue of the lower part of the esophagus.

• Force-feeding results in accumulated scar tissue in the esophagus.

• The liver can be easily damaged by even minor trauma.

Force-fed birds have been found to have chronic heart disorders; ruptured liver cell membranes; cirrhosis; traumatic esophagitis; and lesions in their gizzards and intestines. Dead birds have been found by investigators with food filling their esophagi and spilling out of their nostrils.

Sources: Chicago Sun Times, NBC5 (Chicago), CBS2 (Chicago), Scotsman, Foie Gras: Delicacy of Despair, Human Society of the United States.

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Oktober 2005

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