Foie Gras Ban

Judges Dump Foie Gras Back off California Menus

Ninth Circuit rules state's ban doesn't conflict with federal agriculture regulations.


Foie Gras
Svetlana Kolpakova / Dreamstime

Hide your foie gras, California restauranteurs! A panel of judges with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has restored a law that bans serving or selling the gourmet product if it was produced by force-feeding birds.

The ban took effect in 2012 in California but was suspended by a judge in 2015. The judge ruled that federal regulations under the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) pre-empted a state-level ban.

Fancy restaurants rejoiced, but supporters of the law pushed on and appealed. Today three federal judges determined that the ruling in 2015 was in error. The PPIA prohibits states from imposing requirements on ingredients that contradict federal regulations. But this foie gras ban technically regulates a process, the manner by which the foie gras is made. Therefore, the judges ruled, the California law does not come into conflict with the PPIA at all.

That ruling is essentially a weirdly technical distinction, since it effectively bans foie gras as an ingredient anyway by banning the process used to make it. Read the ruling here.

Food policy expert Baylen Linnekin has written extensively on this fight here. ReasonTV also explored the animal rights claim that force-feeding ducks and geese is cruel. That's the justification been used to implement the ban. Watch below: