Chicago foie gras ban a year later

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2007:

CHICAGO–Responding to a complaint that Cyrano’s Bistrot,
Wine Bar, & Cabaret was illegally selling foie gras, the Chicago
Department of Public Health on September 5, 2007 closed the upscale
restaurant after finding a cockroach-infested kitchen –but no foie
The raid indicated that the Chicago ban on selling foie gras
appears to be holding, a year after the city council approved it
48-1, and that Department of Public Health spokes-person Tim Haddac
erred two weeks earlier when he alleged to Chicago Tribune restaurant
critic Phil Vettel that “Every hour we spend on foie gras is an hour
we don’t spend protecting people against food-borne illnesses.”
Vettel reported on the August 22, 2007 first anniversary of
the passage of the foie gras ban that, “Aficionados can still dine
on foie gras, if they know where to look.”

For instance, Vettel wrote, a restaurant calle Bin 36 “from
time to time offers a menu item of a salad ‘and the foie gras is on
us.’ City inspectors dispatched to Bin 36 last year concluded that
because the foie gras was complimentary, the ordinance hadn’t been
violated.” Vettel also singled out Copperblue chef/owner Michael
Tsonton for serving “a duck liver dish billed ‘It Ain’t Foie Gras No
Moore,'” a menu pun on the name of alderman Joe Moore, author of
the foie gras ban.
Only one restauranteur so far has been fined for a violation.
Doug Sohn, owner of Hot Doug’s, in February 2007 openly defied the
ban by selling a foie gras and duck sausage sandwich he called the
“Joe Moore.” Sohn was fined $250.
The Illinois Restaurant Association and Allen’s New American
Caf De sued seeking to overturn the foie gras ban almost as soon as
it took effect, claiming that Chicago has no constitutional right to
regulate the sale of a legally produced substance. U.S. District
Judge Blanche M. Manning on June 12, 2007 upheld the
constitutionality of the ban in a 26-page written opinion.
Chicago Chefs for Choice, formed in opposition to the foie gras ban,
has promoted two bills to repeal it, but neither has cleared city
council committees.
Haddac told Vettel that, “We wouldn’t shed any tears,” if
the ban was repealed. “From the get-go,” Haddac elaborated, “we’ve
said that the law, however noble in its intention, has nothing to do
with our core mission, which is to protect public health.”
Humane Society of the U.S. director of public health and
animal agriculture Michael Greger, M.D. holds that banning foie gras
protects public health, especially in light of research by
amyloid-related disorders specialist Alan Solomon of the University
of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine in Knoxville.
Made from the artificially enlarged livers of force-fed ducks
and geese, foie gras has long been notoriously saturated in
cholesterol. But that is not the only foie gras-related health risk.
Solomon in June 2007 published evidence in Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences that a protein found in foie gras can
cause the onset of amyloidosis, a disease which can culminate,
summarized Greger, in “extensive organ damage, kidney failure, and
even death.”
“Eating foie gras probably won’t cause disease in someone who
is not genetically predisposed to it,” Solomon told Agence
France-Presse. But he noted that, “People with a family history of
Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or other
amyloid-associated diseases should avoid consuming foie gras and
other foods that may be contaminated with fibrils,” the protein in
On July 30, 2007, HSUS incorporated the Solomon findings
into a refiled and expanded edition of a lawsuit it originally filed
in August 2006, seeking to prohibit raising ducks and geese to make
foie gras in New York state. New York leads the U.S. in foie gras
The amended lawsuit asks the court to order the New York State
Department of Agriculture and Markets “to declare foie gras an
adulterated food product under a state food safety law requiring that
any food that is ‘the product of a diseased animal’ be deemed
adulterated,” explained an HSUS press reliease. “The suit cites
extensive expert evidence that the poultry livers used to make foie
gras are diseased, and that the birds become seriously ill in the
production process.”
The lawsuit was previously amended in March 2007 to take note
of violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The New York state
Department of Environmental Protection had fined Hudson Valley Foie
Gras $30,000 for “discharge of manure-related pollutants and the
installation of an unauthorized manure cesspool at the facility,”
HSUS alleged, but this was “less than one-tenth of one percent of
the available penalties for the more than 800 violations identified
in the enforcement order.
In 2006, HSUS noted, “New York granted Hudson Valley Foie
Gras more than $400,000 in taxpayer funds to expand its
forced-feeding operations, and subsequently defended that decision
by claiming that the factory farm is in compliance with all
applicable federal and state laws.”

Foie gras image

Struggling to defend the image of foie gras, Canada’s
largest producer, Elevages Perigord, on July 20, 2007 fired an
employee who was videotaped by an informant for the Montreal-based
Global Action Network in the act of abusing ducks.
“Only the employee who was fired was identifiable in the
three-minute excerpt the network shared with the media,” wrote
Jasmin Legatos of the Montreal Gazette.
Legatos said the video showed “Elevages Perigord employees
whacking small or sickly ducks against concrete blocks or metal
grates. It also shows workers kicking ducks that are unable to move
because of enlarged livers, the result of the force-feeding process
that takes place before they are slaughtered. The video also depicts
ducks kept in small, dirty cages allegedly covered in regurgitated
food the animals could not keep down after being force-fed.”
At least four British department store chains have
discontinued selling foie gras during the past year under pressure
from Viva!, the campaign name used by Vegetarian International Voice
for Animals.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.