Foie Gras Law and Legal Definition

Foie Gras is a pricey gourmet delicacy. However, the process involved in the production of Foie Gras amounts to animal cruelty. To produce foie grass, birds are force-fed enormous quantities of food three times daily via a pipe that is inserted into the esophagus. This leads to enlargement of the animal's liver and sometimes rupturing of the internal organs, infection and a painful death. The process typically lasts up to four weeks, until the birds are slaughtered.

In the U.S, some states like California has passed legislations prohibiting the force feeding of birds for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size. [Sections 25980-25984 of the California Health and Safety Code, enacted in 2004 and to become effective July 1, 2012] The sale of products that are a result of this process is also prohibited.

Animal rights and welfare groups such as PETA, Farm Sanctuary and the Humane Society of the United States contend that foie gras production methods, and force feeding in particular, consist of cruel and inhumane treatment of animals. Specific complaints include livers swollen to many times their normal size, impaired liver function, expansion of the abdomen making it difficult for birds to walk, death if the force feeding is continued, and scarring of the esophagus.

Following is an example of California legislation prohibiting force feeding of birds:

Cal Health & Saf Code § 25981 (Operative July 1, 2012) Prohibition against attempt to enlarge bird's liver:

A person may not force feed a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size, or hire another person to do so.