Chefs kick back at impending foie gras ban in New York ahead of court appeal

The Staff Canteen

With NYC's Foie gras ban set to come into effect at the end of this year, supporters of the product are still hoping to see the legislation dropped

As of November 25, 2022, foie gras may become unavailable at the city's top restaurants due to a law passed in 2019 banning its production and sale. However, chefs and producers have banded together to push back against its implementation.

The law in question, which was passed in 2019 by a vote of 42 to 6, bans the sale of “force-fed products or food containing a force-fed product,” on the grounds that force-feeding is unethical treatment of the animals. Failure to comply with the law will result in fines ranging from $500 to $2,000 per violation.

However, recently the two biggest foie gras farms in the United States, La Belle and Hudson Valley Foie Gras, have filed a lawsuit seeking to cancel the ban, as they believe it will be detrimental to their businesses and Sullivan County, where they are based. 

In the court documents seen by France-Amérique, they argue that if the ban goes into effect, they will be forced to lay off hundreds of workers. This is in a rural area of the state where 16 percent of the population already lives below the poverty line.

This is without mention for the effect on the network of grain suppliers and service providers that the two farms work with. Marcus Henley, operations manager at Hudson Valley Foie Gras, said: “The food for the ducks is produced here, and wages are paid and spent here. Our farms have a very strong economic impact in one of the poorest counties in the state.”

UK Foie Gras

In the UK, foie gras has been banned since 2006, though it can still be imported from Europe. This was in contention until recently, when a proposed 'Animals Abroad' bill that would have banned the import of foie gras was dropped. 

Many chefs have, in recent years, removed foie gras from their menus due to customers objecting to the cruel conditions required to produce it, amid a rise in vegetarian and vegan diets and with public opinion in favour of a ban on the import of foie gras.

Previous Banning attempts

New York City is not the first state to attempt to ban foie gras: in 2006, Chicago placed a ban on it, but in fear that the new law could lead to bans on other products such as veal and lobster, local restaurants protested and continued to sell the product.

One notable protest even made headlines after a street vendor was caught serving foie gras-laced hot dogs. Overall, rather than drive consumption down, the protest actually led to an increase in foie gras sales and less than two years later, the law was repealed.

Many restaurants in NYC are in no rush to remove foie gras from their menus despite the looming deadline, suggesting a similar pushback could be seen in New York as it was in Chicago.

Marco Moreira, executive chef and owner of French restaurant Tocqueville told the New York Post: “We’re working on a new menu and we’re planning to have foie gras on the menu, as we always have. We’re not slowing down any time soon for sure.”

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th May 2022

Chefs kick back at impending foie gras ban in New York ahead of court appeal