Why foie gras should be taken off the menu

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Why foie gras should be taken off the menu

[Ed. Note: Read more about Foie Gras and watch Foie Gras: Delicacy in Despair, Foie Gras Cruelty, Foie Gras Cruelty (PowerPoint en Espanol).]

By Kelley Diekman, Examiner.com

Thousands of restaurants around the United States serve Foie Gras, a dish that is considered a gourmet delicacy. Those ordering Foie Gras, which means “fatty liver” in French, often have no idea of the suffering that is endured so this dish can be brought to their table.

The Farm Sanctuary organization estimates that over 500,000 ducks and geese are killed each year for the production of Foie Gras. The lives of these birds are full of misery from the very beginning.

On some factory farms, just a few days after their births, the bird’s bills are removed through a procedure called debilling. The bills are cut off of the baby birds to ensure that later on when they are confined in their cages, that they will be unable to peck each other to death. The bills are filled with sensitive nerves, so this procedure is painful and causes suffering throughout the rest of their already short and miserable lives.


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Around three months of age, the birds are confined to tiny cages and crates where they are kept until they are ready for slaughter. Most birds spend their lives with nothing more than wire to stand on in cages so small that the birds are unable to move, leading to extreme stress that causes them to tear out their feathers and peck at the other nearby birds if possible.

While the debilling and confinement is more torture than any creature should have to endure, they still must suffer through daily force feedings. Workers force-feed each bird several times a day by shoving a metal tube down their throats to inject a mixture of grain and fat directly into the bird’s stomachs. Every day each bird is pumped with up to three pounds of food, The Animal Protection & Rescue League compares that to pumping a human full of 45 pounds of pasta a day. Many factory farm workers are responsible for force feeding up to 500 birds a day, and the need to complete this task quickly leads to extreme injuries to the birds. Force-fed birds suffer from broken and cut beaks (what remains of them already), throats that are cut or have tumors from repeated feeding, punctures in their necks, and choking to death.

The force-feeding process enlarges the bird’s livers to almost ten times the size of a regular, healthy liver. These oversized livers push on other organs, joints and lungs making it difficult for the animal to move or even breathe. Many birds die of suffocation or pneumonia. The Farm Sanctuary organization reported that one factory farm had such a high rate or deaths in their birds that they offered a bonus to any worker who only lost 50 birds per month.

Due to the inhumane and cruel treatment of these birds, fourteen countries have already banned the practice of forced-feedings. These countries include the United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, The Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and Israel. In 2004, California passed a law that would completely ban the production and sale of Foie Gras by the year 2012. Celebrities such as Wolfgang Puck, Kate Winslet, Roger Moore, and even Pope Benedict XVI have spoken out against Foie Gras.

For conscious eaters and bird lovers who want to see an end to the inhumane production of Foie Gras, there are many ways to help. Educate family and friends about the source of Foie Gras, ask the American Veterinary Medical Association to take a position on Foie Gras production, enjoy Faux Gras alternatives, and contact local grocers and restaurants that sell Foie Gras.