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Foie Gras

Foie gras is made from the grotesquely enlarged livers of male ducks.

The birds are kept in tiny wire cages that almost completely restrict movement—they cannot preen, stretch their wings, nor fully stand. Metal pipes are repeatedly shoved down the birds’ throats, and up to 4 pounds of corn meal mixed with water is pumped into their stomachs two or three times every day. For a 150 pound human, this would be equivalent to 60 pounds of food per day!

The pipes puncture many birds’ throats, sometimes causing the animals to bleed to death. This cruel procedure makes the birds feel sick and causes their livers to become diseased and swell to up to 10 times their normal size. Many birds become too sick to even hold their head up. The birds who survive the force-feeding are transported to slaughter, killed and their livers are sold for foie gras.

Inspections of foie gras farms and production units in Quebec by animal protectionist groups such as Global Action Network (GAN) and Animals’ Angels Canada revealed many disturbing practices. GAN investigated the two largest foie gras producers in Canada (both in Quebec) and found routine cruelty such as the heads being pulled off of live ducks, ducks being kicked, punched and thrown, and ducks being smashed against walls and floors.

During the same period, Animals’ Angels Canada Inspector Twyla Francois investigated the third largest foie gras producer in Canada (also in Quebec) called Palmex. At Palmex, the birds were covered with regurgitated cornmeal. Their eyes were badly infected; some had opaque eyes, a sign of impending blindness, from the unhealthy conditions they were kept in. When humans entered the facility the birds would become extremely fearful. Some pecked incessantly at the one beside them or, more heart-breakingly, attempted to comfort one another by tucking their heads under one another’s neck.

The investigation report included a description of how the birds are force-fed. The observation noted that: “force-feeding was done by workers rolling a large mechanical cornmeal-encrusted machine to where the birds are held.  ll the birds seemed to go into panic mode trying to hide their heads. The workers turned the machine on, grabbed the head of a struggling duck, rammed the metal pipe down the duck’s throat without lubrication, pushed a lever to force the pasty meal down, pulled the pipe out and moved onto the next bird. The head of the bird who had just been force fed dropped straight down while the cornmeal would bubble out of its nostrils.”

Production and sale of foie gras is banned in some 15 countries. Several countries in Europe have banned it, including Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy and Poland. In 2006, Chicago followed suit, and by 2012, the sale and production of foie gras will be illegal in the state of California. New York, Oregon, Illinois and Massachusetts have proposed similar legislation.

Some restaurants in Manitoba provide this so-called “delicacy” as a menu item. However, the practices required to create foie gras are inherently cruel and cannot be justified for simply a trifle on a cracker.

For more information

See full reports on the following websites: