In yet another court victory against foie gras cruelty, a California judge yesterday ruled that the state’s foie gras sales ban is entirely constitutional, reaffirming California’s authority to keep cruel products out of its marketplace. The latest challenge to the law, which went into effect in 2012, was brought by out-of-state producers looking to promote the sale of this cruel product within California. The judge denied their request to strike down the law, and warned that the filing of any more similar challenges to the constitutionality of the law will result in court-ordered sanctions.
The court also noted that the law only bans the sale of foie gras in California, and was never intended to be an absolute ban on all possession or personal consumption of foie gras. Thus, the ruling does not change the legal landscape of foie gras sales in California, as some media outlets have erroneously reported. As the court explained, the ruling does not affect sellers of foie gras “who are located within California (e.g., restaurants),” which have been prohibited from selling such products for years.
The challenge defeated today was the latest in a series of ultimately unsuccessful challenges mounted by foie gras producers to a landmark law that does away with the sales of one of the worst abuses of animals raised for food. To produce foie gras, geese are typically fed through metal pipes forced down their throats, making their livers blow up to 10 times their natural size—a process known as gavage. The birds are then killed and their livers harvested as a fatty “delicacy.”
As the cruelty involved in foie gras production has come to light, it’s been increasingly regarded with distaste around the world. More than a dozen countries, including Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel and the United Kingdom, have either prohibited force-feeding for foie gras production or interpreted it as illegal under existing anti-cruelty laws.
Californians have already made it clear that they will not stand for cruelty against animals raised for food. In 2018 the state passed a law against cage confinement that’s often referred to as the world’s strongest farm animal protection law. This victory is yet another reason why companies and producers clinging to abusive practices like force-feeding, battery cages and gestation crates should discard these practices once and for all.