In this file:
· Animal rights activists sue biggest US foie gras distributor
· City Council Officially Voted to Ban Foie Gras
Animal rights activists sue biggest US foie gras distributor
By Verena Dobnik, Associated Press
via Star Tribune (MN) - November 1, 2019
NEW YORK — A day after the New York City Council voted to ban the sale of foie gras, animal rights activists sued the biggest U.S. distributor of the French delicacy for alleged inhumane treatment of ducks.
Voters For Animal Rights, a New York-based nonprofit, filed the lawsuit in Brooklyn federal court late Thursday. Activists accuse Union, New Jersey-based D'Artagnan, Inc. and D'Artagnan, LLC of "deceptive marketing and advertising of foie gras products," made from fattened duck livers.
The company says birds at two farms outside New York City are fed in a humane way through a plastic tube workers slip down their throats. About two hours north of the city, the Hudson Valley Foie Gras and La Belle collectively raise 350,000 birds a year, selling the livers for about $15 million, plus duck byproducts. Each worker feeds hundreds of them a day, squirting soft corn-based feed into each one through the beak every eight hours.
D'Artagnan issued a statement late Friday calling the lawsuit "frivolous."
"If their concerns are truly with animal welfare, they should focus their efforts on large factory farms, where there are real concerns," the company said. "We're confident that the justice system will see this lawsuit for what it is."
But supporters of the bill that passed Wednesday say the force-feeding involves animal cruelty, enlarging livers as much as 10 times the normal size in an animal so heavy its breathing becomes labored. According to the lawsuit, the ducks used in D'Artagnan products "are raised in inhumane conditions." Thousands of birds are kept in massive barns with no access to the outdoors...
City Council Officially Voted to Ban Foie Gras
But the legislation won’t take effect for three years
by Caleb Pershan, Eater New York
Oct 30, 2019
New York’s City Council has voted 42 to six to ban the sale of foie gras — part of an animal welfare bill package that also bans the capture of wild birds and adds restrictions to horse drawn carriages.
The new law banning “force-fed poultry products” won’t have an immediate impact on the roughly 1,000 New York City restaurants serving foie gras on their menus — or the small New York farmers supplying them, which say they could eventually lose up to 400 workers under the new law. A three-year grace period is built into the bill before fines of $2,000 per violation will be levied against offenders. According to the Times, Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to allow the bills to lapse into law.
But when the ban does take effect, chefs like Ken Oringer do expect to feel a real blow. At his Chelsea tapas restaurant Toro, dishes like foie gras torchons with buttermilk biscuits and foie gras katsu sandwiches are some of his best-selling items. “[Diners] want to eat something different, something delicious,” he says, and foie gras provides that.
But foie gras hasn’t been a huge part of menus at new restaurants in New York for a while; many chefs now use it sparingly, if at all.
Instead, the biggest impact will be for upstate farmers and meat distributors. Ariane Daguin, who founded the meat and game distribution company D’Artagnan more than 30 years ago, says she currently sells about $15 million of foie gras to New York chefs. And Marcus Henley, who runs 37-year-old Ferndale farm Hudson Valley Foie Gras, says foie gras is its biggest and most lucrative product, generating about $35 million in annual sales.
The broader economic impact on the local economy in the farm’s Sullivan County could be even larger. ”When you have a community like ours, outside the city and the resources of the city, bringing in money from outside the area, as our foie gras sales do, is very important to the local economy,” Henley says.
Both Daguin and Henley say that foie gras has been misunderstood. “If I were a duck, I say often, I would rather be a foie gras duck — I’d live a nice life,” says Daguin. Henley invited city council members to visit; none went, with members like health committee chair Carlina Rivera, who sponsored the legislation, expressing doubts they’d see a fair picture of the practice.
The main point of contention is gavage, a force-feeding process where farmers fatten a duck’s liver to ten times its previous size. It takes place three times a day for 12 weeks, corresponding to a period of migration in a duck’s life, Henley explains. “It’s not harmful, and comfortable, with a tiny little tube the size of your finger.”
But opponents like Matthew Dominguez, who represents New York’s Voters for Animal Rights and sponsored the anti-foie gras legislation, call the process inhumane...