California battle over force-feeding ends badly for foie gras fans

The U.S. Supreme Court declines to review appeal of 2004 ban, effectively upholding the law


Nancy Luna, Nation's Restaurant News

Jan 08, 2019


The food industry, including dozens of fine-dining chefs in California, lost the latest round in the battle over the production and sale of foie gras in the state.


The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal of a 2004 foie gras ban, thereby upholding the controversial law in California.† The ban, in effect since July 1, 2012, prohibits the production or sale in California of any product, such as fattened duck liver, produced by force-feeding birds.


Michael Tenenbaum, the Santa Monica attorney representing the groups challenging the ban, said the fight is not over. He said the constitutional challenge of the ban will go back to a Los Angeles federal district court, which had initially overturned the ban in 2015. At that time, a federal judge permanently blocked the state attorney general from enforcing the foie gras ban.


In the earlier ruling, the judge found that the federal governmentís authority to regulate foie gras and other poultry products supersedes the stateís.


But two years later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down that ruling.


Foie gras producers, including a Canadian nonprofit that represents duck and goose farmers, vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.


But on Monday, the high court chose not to review the case, handing a victory over to animal-rights advocacy groups such as PETA, who advocated for the ban.


Tenenbaum said the courtís decision not to review the case does not reflect the merits of the case. He maintains that federal poultry regulations pre-empt Californiaís ban on foie gas. He plans...