Chefs React to California Foie Gras Ban


Chefs in California have reacted angrily to a Federal appeal court’s decision to reinstate the State’s foie gras ban, which was first enacted in 2012, before being overturned three years later.

The ban had been inactive since 2015, when foie gras producers successfully filed a lawsuit arguing that it interfered with Federal law. While production remained banned, the ban on sales was lifted. But, last Friday, judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favour of a total ban.

The controversial delicacy, made from the engorged livers of ducks and geese that have been force fed, will now have to be removed from restaurant menus and store shelves, though there will be a grace period to allow for the appeals process to run its course.

While animal right campaigners have hailed the decision, several chefs have voiced their anger. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, chef Eric Greenspan said: “Let’s ban assault rifles before we ban foie gras if you want to talk about cruelty … Don’t eat it if you don’t want to, but don’t impede on anyone’s rights to do what they want to do.” Also speaking to the Times, Mélisse’s Josia Citrin said he will adapt, but that he didn’t like “being told what we can and can’t use.” Chef Ken Frank of Le Toquerestaurant in Napa told the San Francisco Chronicle that the ban is a "terrible piece of legislation."

The Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards (CHEFS) and New York-based Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York wil both be appealing the decision, they say.

Foie gras has featured on the menus of some of the State’s best restaurants, including Manresa and The French Laundry. Watch chef Dan Barber, below, explain how he stumbled upon a humane foie gras producer in rural Spain.

With the news that France has implemented a three-month ban on foie gras production in an attempt to contain an outbreak of avian flu, the controversial luxury food is once again at the top of the foodie news agenda – not that it ever strays too far from the summit.

The ban is expected to hit French exports of the fatty duck or goose liver hard: France currently exports 20,000 tons a year, mainly to Europe, the USA and China, and is a member of the European Foie Gras Foundation, along with Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary and Spain.


Foie gras is the fatty livers of a ducks or geese that have often been forcibly overfed via tubing inserted into the oesophagus, a process known as 'gavage'. This causes their livers to swell to roughly 10 times the original size.

Many view gavage as extremely unethical and unneccessarily cruel, so much so that the production of foie gras is actually banned in many countries – but only India has implemented a total ban. Below we’ve compiled a list of countries and places showing exactly where they stand on the production and sale of the luxury food, and also where bans have been overturned.

Production ban

Argentina, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, UK.

Total ban on sale and production


Overturned ban

California (banned in 2012, overturned in 2015), Chicago (banned in 2006, overturned in 2008), São Paulo – read Alex Atala's reaction to the original ban.