New York chefs react in horror at foie gras ban to go into effect in 2022

The  Staff Canteen

Yesterday the New York City Council overwhelmingly voted through a ban on the sale of foie gras as of 2022, becoming the second US location to implement such a law after California.

The fattened liver of geese and/ducks, though occasionally produced ethically on free-range farms (or using technology to artificially fatten the livers of healthy birds), is most often made by force-feeding animals, a practice otherwise known as gavage. 

Animal rights group have shone a light on the issue, typically recording video footage inside abattoirs showing birds being subjected to conditions most would consider cruel. 

Although foie gras consumption was always somewhat contentious, public opinion has decidedly shifted in favour of a ban on foie gras.

In the UK, production is prohibited but imports and sale aren’t. However, according to Animal Equality UK, 77% of people would support a ban on imports

The issue is more divisive in the hospitality industry, as foie gras was (and still is) commonly served at many fine dining restaurants. In New York, more than 1,000 restaurants still serve it today.

While some argue that industrial farms engage in similarly dubious practices, which fewer people vocally object to, others simply believe that they should be free to buy foie gras, giving the public the choice of whether or not to buy it. 

Jeffrey Chouinard, director of food and beverage at Dirty French told The Guardian that he was “shocked” when he heard the news and that such a ban should open the door to claims about the adverse health effects of other products. 

“How about alcohol? How many people are killed?” he said. “We don’t like to talk about it because we like to have a cocktail now and then.”

Under the new law, New York City chefs face $2,000 fine for serving the product.

Brazilian chef and owner of French-American restaurant Tocqueville, Marco Moreira, told the NYTimes: “New York is the mecca of dining in the world. How is it possible that New York doesn’t have foie gras?”

“What’s next? No more veal? No more mushrooms?”

Others have taken a more balanced stance. 

Daniel Misiti, a Friars Club chef, said: “As a chef, you desire to cook what the people want. But I also find it inhumane to force-feed an animal just to fulfill that goal. All in all, I remain neutral on the subject.”

While ethically-produced foie gras won’t be banned, ascertaining the legality of the product may prove to be difficult, which it will be considered illegal unless proof of its production can be provided.

Marco Moreira thinks his restaurant will suffer from having the product taken away. 

He said: “It’s like taking letters from the alphabet; they will take something out of our kitchen vocabulary that’s integral to the restaurant.”

Jeffrey Chouinard said he doubts that the bistro's business will take a hit, but that – just like when shootings happen and legislation threatens a ban on firearms triggers a rise in sales - “you’re going to see a great increase in the sale of foie gras” between now and 2022. 

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 31st October 2019

New York chefs react in horror at foie gras ban to go into effect in 2022