Tu sei qui

Focus December 2019

New York, like California, bans the sale of foie gras

In Italy, as in most European countries, its production is forbidden, but unfortunately not its sale.

This just in: from 2022, in all restaurants and shops in the city of New York, it will be illegal to serve or sell foie gras, the fatty duck or goose liver obtained by unacceptable methods. This decision, though not immediately implemented, was strongly championed by mayor Bill de Blasio and follows those adopted some time ago in California and Chicago. This provision will affect approximately a thousand restaurants, mostly French, and many chefs are preparing for battle, abetted by local producers. Let them do their worst: the fact remains that this food is produced by intolerable means.
Indeed, foie gras is produced by force-feeding ducks and geese in a process called gavage, while confining them to tiny cages which prevent them from spreading their wings. This causes an abnormally enlarged liver, up to 10 times larger than normal, through hepatic steatosis. Foie gras is currently restricted in all EU nations (except France, obviously) and in India, Israel, and Britain. These countries ban its production but hypocritically permit the sale of the imported product, thereby endorsing its presence in shops and on restaurant menus. These countries include Italy, though luckily most supermarket chains have removed foie gras from their shelves. However, its import volume remains very high. France is the largest producer and consumer of duck and goose foie gras (accounting for approximately 70%), of which 96% is derived from ducks and the rest from geese. The EU has granted PDO status to the foie gras produced by traditional methods in south-eastern France. Hungary is the second largest producer worldwide. Other substantial producers are Bulgaria, Canada, the USA and, just for a change, China.
Foie gras, alas, is not the only product which we should eliminate from our tables. Recall the horrors associated with battery hens, farmed salmon, shark fins, whale tongue, bluefin tuna, juvenile fish such as whitebait and baby eels, and migratory birds.
I would like to remind Academicians of the crucial article 5 of our Code of Ethics: “The Academy opposes any form of mistreatment of animals, be they farm-raised, bred, or hunted (including fish, crustaceans and molluscs) and adheres to the European Convention on the Protection of Farm Animals. The Academy prohibits the gastronomic use of endangered species as provided for in European and national legislation.”
We can happily celebrate and honour our culinary prowess without foods obtained through methods which inflict suffering on animals, even if they are in France or other countries.

Paolo Petroni
President of the Academy