Animal Rights

California Authorities Prepare to Not Really Bother to Enforce Foie Gras Ban

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We are pleased to offer white toast for $20. The chef may include some additional spreads at his discretion.

Gorge yourself on engorged duck and goose livers while you can, Californians. The state's ban on foie gras takes effect on July 1. After that day, those merciless state authorities, looking to put the boot to the neck of its citizenry as usual, will be going after defiant chefs.

Or, for once, perhaps not. Via Bloomberg:

Producing or selling the engorged livers of force-fed ducks and geese will be prohibited under the law. Some of those responsible for enforcing it, however, have little interest in pursuing chefs who, say, offer it free, perhaps in conjunction with pricey pieces of toast.

"This is not a crime that would be investigated by the LAPD or likely any other municipal police department," Officer Karen Rayner, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Police Department, said in an e-mail. …

Chefs who defy the ban are subject to a $1,000 citation under legislation passed in 2004. Implementation was delayed to give the food industry time to adjust.

"I'm not aware of any plans for us to enforce it," Sergeant Michael Andraychak, a San Francisco Police Department spokesman, said in an interview.

Kathleen Brown, deputy director of the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control, which is responsible for animal welfare, said her agency won't issue citations to chefs who give away foie gras as a sample or a bonus to a dish, or who prepare the meat brought in by customers who buy it outside California.

New York movie theater owners might want to take note. If the city moves forward with its soda ban, maybe jack up the price of the popcorn and offer free large sodas with every purchase.

The foie gras ban drove at least one business to relocate from the state to Nevada, according to Bloomberg. Mirepoix USA, an online foie gras dealer, relocated to Reno, but the move still puts them in a good position to sell to ritzy Lake Tahoe restaurants (or rather to ritzy Lake Tahoe residents who can then bring the foie gras in to chefs to cook for them).

The ban, based on animal rights activists' beliefs that the force-feeding hurts the waterfowl (which producers say is simply not true), will cause at least one business to shut its doors:

At Sonoma Foie Gras, based in Farmington, California, owner Guillermo Gonzalez said he plans to close his business this month.

"The effect of the ban is the closing of a successful family business that for over 25 years has provided the highest quality duck products with utmost respect to animal husbandry practices," Gonzalez said in an e-mailed response to questions.

"For the time being, we are going to reflect and consider our next steps," Gonzalez said. "If foie gras falls, it will set a dangerous precedent for animal agriculture and beyond. It will show that a powerful minority has the ability to impose its beliefs on us all."

Below, Reason.tv spoke with people on both sides of the foie gras ban in January: