Similar to caviar, oysters and champagne, when one consumes the French delicacy foie gras, he is regarded as being of a higher social class than the mere workers of the world who have little quips about being seen tucking into a hearty plate fish and chips. Would, however, the quest for “finer” associations be as desirable if they knew how their rich, buttery and delicate liver delicacy had been produced?
Earlier this year, Top Secret Writers wrote a report highlighting the barbaric goings on at duck farms in California and New York. The story emerged after Animal Protection activists infiltrated duck factory farms that produced the foie gras French delicacy. (1) It was discovered that ducks had metal tubes forced down their throats in order to shoot food into their stomachs to fatten their livers and produce foie gras. This caused the birds to either die or become lethargic and depressed.
There has been a similar expose of such sadistic antics in Europe when the animal rights group, Animal Equality, presented a disturbing undercover investigation into the foie gras industry in the European Union.
According to a press release that was released by Animal Equality in July of 2012, investigators from the animal welfare group visited four “traditional” farms located in the south west of France and 4 farms in Catalonia, Spain. Similar to the horrific cruelty that was exposed at duck farms in New York and California, the Animal Equality investigators found equally as shocking treatment was being inflicted on the ducks and geese in the farms of France and Spain. (2)
In Europe, as the press release states, foie gras is produced in France, Spain, Bulgaria, Belgium and Hungary. In 2008 these countries formed the Foie Gras Federation. Whilst France is the largest producer and exporter of foie gras, with more than 20,000 tons being produced each year, 4,200 tons of foie gras is consumed in Spain. (2)
In light of Animal Equality’s shocking discovery, the group is asking for immediate closure of all foie gras farms in France and the banning of the production of the delicacy in the EU.
In order to find out just how close a ban on the production of foie gras is, Top Secret Writers interviewed Laura Gough, Animal Equality spokesperson.
Interview with Laura Gough
Gabrielle Pickard: When and how did Animal Equality first realize that there was maltreatment occurring in foie gras farms in Europe?
Laura Gough: Animal Equality at the beginning of 2012 started an international investigation into the foie gras industry in Europe. We gathered information from 12 farms in Cataluña (Spain), 1 in the Vasque Country (Spain) and 4 in France.
The investigation includes several farms, which supply ducks to companies owned by Jordi Terol, who is the Vice-President of Eurofoiegras (European Committee for the European foie gras industry), created in Strasbourg, 2008.
Our investigators have documented through video images, photographs and notes, the suffering that animals endure on all these farms. We where shocked but not surprised to find:
–> Ducks covered in blood with their beaks broken. The animals were filmed on several consecutive days with the same injuries – it was apparent that no veterinary treatment was provided
–> Ducks with eye infections
–> Ducks attempting to escape their individual cages in which they were kept in
–> Ducks in their cages performing repetitive behaviors, such as head shaking and stereotypical feather preening, which is a possible sign of stress.
–> Ducks who with breathing difficulties
–> Dead ducks inside and outside of the cages
Gabrielle Pickard: In light of your undercover report whereby several Animal Equality activists posed as workers at a duck factory farm, has there been any positive advances in abolishing the dreadful maltreatment of force feeding ducks on duck farms?
Laura Gough: We have shown our investigation and findings to the European Parliament, and last October, MEP’s held a conference in Brussels, to discuss the production of foie gras and urge its ban.
We also applaud the prohibition of production and sale of foie gras in California (US), which is a step forward that other countries should follow to end the agony and suffering these animals are forced into on farms.
Gabrielle Pickard: Could foie gras be produced by using more humane methods of feeding ducks and not subjecting them to any pain?
Laura Gough: Foie gras is produced from the livers of overfed ducks and geese. To be able to obtain foie gras you need to cause the “onset of liver steatosis” or fatty degeneration—a pathological condition characterized by the presence of abnormally large quantities of fat within cells, resulting in impaired hepatic function.
The liver used for foie gras is ten times bigger than its original size. There is no “humane” way of producing a diseased liver.
We also need to remember that only male ducks are used in foie gras production. Female ducklings are either raised for meat or killed immediately after hatching, which also causes enormous amounts of suffering.
The only way to reduce the suffering and pain of these animals is not to demand or consume foie gras.
Gabrielle Pickard: Why do you think that countries like France and Spain insist on force feeding ducks to produce foie gras despite EU legislation that effectively bans the force feeding of animals?
Laura Gough: In 1999 the European Parliament stated that the production of foie gras was prohibited by treaty except for “where it is current practice” bound by the Council of Europe’s European Convention for the Protection of Animals. Meaning that any country producing foie gras before 1999 could continue.
Although the number of European countries producing foie gras has decreased since 1999, Belgium, Bulgaria, Spain, France and Hungary still insist in force feeding animals as they consider it a “tradition”. The real reason is that force feeding is a cheaper and faster method which brings millions in profit to these companies. The industry would not exist if they banned this cruel method.
Gabrielle Pickard: Do you think that the duck farms involved in the cruelty will be penalized for their antics in the wake of your report? If not, why not?
Laura Gough: Although we have reported the farms, and sent all evidence to the authorities, we do believe that the industry won’t really face the consequences of all the suffering they cause, and which is involved in the production of foie gras.
The Foie Gras industry is very powerful in Europe, and the only way to abolish it is to continue campaigning and lobbying the European Parliament to enforce laws.
Gabrielle Pickard: Should there be a complete ban of foie gras in Europe and do you think this will ever be achieved?
Laura Gough: The majority of the public which have seen or have knowledge on this issue are strongly against it. We believe that undercover investigations are the key to raise awareness and to achieve a real change for animals. Although the process might seem slow we can see that more and more people are concerned about animals and their suffering.
We are lobbying the European Parliament and at the same time there are several MPE’s which are asking the European Commission for a law to abolish the production of foie gras, as it has already been done in more than a dozen countries, such as Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
Through our petition and by sharing our investigation we can achieve a total ban of force feeding and foie gras production in Europe.
More information at: www.FoieGrasFarms.org