Labour party proposes a ban on foie gras as part of new animal welfare bill

The Staff Canteen

The Labour party has proposed a ban on importing foie gras as part of a new animal welfare bill released this week.

Foie gras is already illegal to produce in the UK but the policy document proposes the end of all imports of the product too, from countries such as France, Hungary and Spain.

Foie grasThe ban on foie gras is proposed as part of a 50 point animal welfare policy that the Labour Party submitted for public consultation on Wednesday January 14, 2018. The bill also advocates a ban on badger culling and third-party sales of puppies.

Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman told the Evening Standard: "Our vision is one where no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and we continue to drive up standards and practice in line with the most recent advances and understanding."

What is foie gras?

Foie gras is a liver pâté made from the liver of duck or geese that have been fattened. The production of the delicacy often involves the controversial practice of force-feeding the animals, to deposit more fat in the liver.  

Foie gras and animal cruelty

Many activists believe that this force-feeding is cruel and inhumane. The RSPCA claims that the practice “can damage the birds’ throats” and warns that “birds’ livers may become 6 to 10 times the normal size and stop working properly”. 

Chefs and foie gras

American chef Anthony Bourdain has publically defended foie gras in restaurants. According to the Washington City Paper in 2010, he spoke publicly about how no ‘responsible’ chef would buy a product from a distressed animal. He was quoted to have said: “…Inarguably that kind of suffering and stress leads directly to the quality of food that we don't want."

dan doherty
Dan Doherty, chef director of Duck & Waffle

Dan Doherty, chef director of Duck & Waffle made a similar argument to The Staff Canteen back in 2014“Geese and ducks don't need to be force fed to make foie gras. They are naturally greedy and will often have a fatty liver. I most certainly do not condone the force feeding and cruelty some producers use."

He added: “The percentage of foie gras production is a drop in the ocean compared to the awful production of chickens amongst many other things. The bigger problem of animal welfare remains, foie gras or no foie gras.”

Some chefs however have spoken out against foie gras, including Albert Roux in 2013, who emailed the charity PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and wrote: “I’m totally, totally in agreement of not serving foie gras due to the cruelty inflicted on the animals”.

Midsummer House was threatened by individuals from the ALF (Animal Liberation Front) in 2008 for including foie gras on the menu, and following a series act of vandalism, chef Daniel Clifford took it off.

Heston Blumenthal restaurants reportedly dropped their foie gras supplier back in 2014 after a graphic undercover video obtained by The Mirror showed the suffering of ducks farmed for foie gras at Maison Mitteault farm.

Our Facebook followers were also divided on this topic. Oliver Dartnell Machin was in support of the ban and said: "It's a disgustingly in humane [sic] way to serve up an animal."

Jason Wilkes argued that politicians should be focusing on other issues, and commented: "Maybe tackle the big things first and then save the world from the incredibly delicious fore [sic] gras..."

Some were in agreement with Anthony Bourdain - that the provenance of the product is the most important factor in the debate. Gregory Rush added: "I can eat my foie 100% guilt free". 

Associations that have already backed the proposals include the League Against Cruel Sports, preservation charity WWF And Compassion in World Farming.

By Jenna Lloyd



What do you think – should imports of foie gras be banned in the UK? Comment below, join the debate on our Facebook page or tweet us @canteentweets

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 15th February 2018

Labour party proposes a ban on foie gras as part of new animal welfare bill