Foie Gras is said to be a delicacy. I have never had it, but I am sure there are real foie gras lovers out there. I am, however, hoping to dissuade you of this particular craving.
What is foie gras? Liver. Not just any liver, but the liver of a duck or a goose.
Before we proceed, let’s understand that this is not a vegetarian issue I am writing about; this is a humanity issue. This is an issue about us humans actually acting humane.
The mass production of foie gras has been a subject of heated debate; not because ducks or geese are killed for their liver, but the methods used to supposedly “improve” the delicacy of foie gras.
To produce foie gras, ducks and geese are force fed by shoving a tube down their throats two or three times per day. The pipes severely damage the esophagus in the duck and the goose. As you can imagine, the birds are terrified and simply wait for this abuse to be inflicted each day. This process induces a very painful condition called fatty liver. This condition is intentional and supposedly “improves” the quality of the foie gras.
Fatty liver in ducks and geese undergoing forced feeding is a condition that often ultimately results in the animal being incapable of moving, induces respiratory distress, seizure, depression, unconsciousness and death. This process of force feeding also leads to bacterial infection, fungal growth, and pneumonia.
Because the liver acts as a filter for the blood and screens toxins, dangerous buildup of streptococcus, E. coli and dangerous toxins can be found in livers of these ducks and geese.
A number of plaintiffs have recently filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture alleging that the agency is violating several sections of the Poultry Products Inspection Act. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs maintain that:
“Force-fed foie gras, which consists of the pathologically diseased livers of force-fed ducks or geese, is by definition an unwholesome, adulterated poultry product that is unfit for human consumption under the PPIA. Foie gras is created by a force-feeding process called gavage, which is engineered to induce acute hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease, in ducks or geese. Overwhelmed by fat deposits, the livers of force-fed birds begin to degenerate and their capacity to filter toxins from the circulatory system diminishes. Toxins accumulate in the blood, causing serious systemic diseases that require condemnation under the 25 PPIA, 21 U.S.C. § 451 et seq., its implementing regulations, and USDA agency policy.”
A recent study from the National Academy of Science has linked the consumption of foie gras with the development of amyloidosis in humans. Amyloidosis can be a deadly disease with symptoms including: heart failure, arrhythmia, pulmonary bleeding, enlargement of the spleen, rupture of the spleen, hemorrhaging of the gastrointestinal system, and serious neurological damage.
Many countries in the world have outright banned the force feeding of animals, including: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Austria, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Once the fourth largest producer of foie gras, Israel banned forced feeding of animals in 2003.
If animal cruelty is an insufficient reason for you to refuse to consume foi gras, perhaps the fact that more than 14 modern countries have banned the cruel treatment is enough.
Or if you simply do not mind the fact that by consuming foie gras you are probably sucking down dangerous toxins and bacteria, maybe the below video will change your feelings. Fair warning though, the video is not for the faint of heart and really is as shocking as the inhumane abuse being inflicted upon these animals each day: