New York prohibits the marketing of foie gras from 2022

Rally of animal rights advocates in favor of a bill banning the sale of foie gras, June 18 in New York.
Rally of animal rights advocates in favor of a bill banning the sale of foie gras, June 18 in New York. ANGELA WEISS / AFP

The outcome of the vote made little doubt. The New York City Council adopted Wednesday, October 30, a text prohibiting the marketing of foie gras from the end of 2022, a decision that should deprive the industry, especially local, a significant market.

Presented at the beginning of the year by several municipal councilors, a majority of elected officials had shown their support for this text, which prohibits the sale of foie gras, to use it or even to hold it. Offenders will be liable to a fine of between $ 500 and $ 2,000 (between € 448 and € 1,800), which may be renewed every 24 hours.

Several industry leaders in the New York area have indicated their intention to challenge the law, which has yet to be ratified by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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Force-feeding is an "atrocity"

New York will join the state of California, where marketing has been banned since January, although the legal battle continues around this decision. In other countries, such as Denmark, the United Kingdom or Australia, the production of foie gras is already banned.

"It's a historic day for animal rights in New York", commented after the vote, Matthew Dominguez, political advisor of the association Voters for Animal Rights, which played a major role in this issue.

The text adopted Wednesday specifies that the ban concerns products from force-feeding animals, practice denounced by elected officials as well as several associations of animal protection. For Matthew Dominguez, force-feeding is a "Atrocity".

The animal welfare association Animal Welfare Institute welcomed, in a tweet, the end of marketing in New York of "This inhuman luxury food".

An alternative method

There is now an offer of foie gras obtained without force-feeding, but its volumes are insignificant at the industry level. A French start-up, Aviwell, is also working on an alternative process that could be used by the industry.

Besides amateurs, retailers and restaurateurs, the first hit by the measure will be the two big producers located in the north of New York, Hudson Valley Foie Gras and La Belle Farm. The foie gras of these two farms supplies a significant portion of the New York market, although the measure would also have an impact for French producers.

Opponents who insist that animals are fed, Hudson Valley Foie Gras replied that the amount of grain given to ducks does not exceed that which they could eat on their own. They also emphasize that the duck gizzard naturally has a storage function and does not have the sensitivity of that of a man.

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The measure "would be dramatic"

"We will fight"reacted Ariane Daguin, founder and CEO of D'Artagnan, an intermediary who feeds a good portion of the New York market in foie gras. "We will make a lawsuit. " For her, the new law "Is not constitutional at all". "It's not up to a city council to decide what is cruel or not for animals. "

The entry into force of the measure "Would be dramatic" for D'Artagnan, she says, because foie gras and pieces of duck fat weigh about 10% of its turnover, or $ 15 million.

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For Izzy Yanay, co-founder of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the activists have attacked its industry because it is modest compared to the giants of livestock and agri-food. "It's very easy to attack us", says the entrepreneur who announces a 'Tragedy' for some of its 400 employees if the measure came into effect.

"They've been waiting for this victory for 40 years"he continued, referring to animal rights advocates. "They made a breach in the glass wall. Now they have their precedent », which will allow them, according to him, to attack other industries.

"All breeding and production is inhuman. Why take a little one like this? " reacted Hugue Dufour, head of the restaurant Mr. Wells Steakhouse, in the Queens neighborhood. "Those who get away are still fast food, big chains"added the chef, who serves foie gras in his establishment.

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