For the first time in two years, foie gras can be sold by retailers and gourmet California chefs can add the delicacy to their menus. A U.S. District Court judge yesterday ruled that the prohibition on the sale of the fatty liver dish violated the federal government’s regulatory domain. The judge based his decision on the federal Poultry Products Inspections Act, which proscribes states from imposing certain conditions on food. While the city of Chicago passed a restriction (that was quickly overturned), California is the only state to have enacted such a law.
The act of force-feeding ducks and geese in order to enlarge their livers was seen as inhumane by the 2004 California Legislature that passed the prohibition, though it did not take effect until 2012. The ban was challenged by poultry producer Hudson Valley Foie Gras of New York, Hot’s Restaurant Group in Southern California and the Canadian trade organization Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec. Several Bay area restaurants immediately began serving foie gras—including Dirty Habit, Goose & Gander, Hapa Ramen, La Toque and Torc.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was amongst animal rights organizations to criticize the ruling. It is noteworthy that the actual production of foie gras in California remains illegal.