Animal Advocates Declare Victory in Federal Foie Gras False Advertising SuitPosted on August 15, 2013
Hudson Valley Foie Gras No Longer Promoting Itself as “The Humane Choice”
For immediate release:
Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
SAN FRANCISCO — In a groundbreaking end to its false advertising lawsuit against New York-based Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) is celebrating the company’s decision to stop advertising its products as “humane.” ALDF has voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit after Hudson Valley Foie Gras–the largest foie gras producer in the nation—removed all references to “humane” foie gras from its website in late July, 2013. ALDF’s lawsuit contended that Hudson Valley Foie Gras was violating the federal Lanham Act and California’s False Advertising and Unfair Competition Laws by claiming to be “the Humane Choice” while force-feeding massive amounts of grain to ducks to produce the swollen livers marketed as foie gras. The case set a new precedent that both animal protection organizations and companies marketing legitimately humane alternatives to cruelly-produced products have legal standing to sue producers of animal products for false advertising.
Why aren’t force-fed products humane? Avian pathologists agree that force-fed foie gras production can never be humane and note that force-feeding can cause an excruciating liver disease known as hepatic lipidosis and can lead to respiratory distress, diarrhea, seizure, and death. Hudson Valley Foie Gras products are produced by force-feeding young ducks with massive amounts of grain to produce livers eight or more times the size of a healthy liver—a procedure described by agriculture industry expert Temple Grandin as “highly questionable from an animal welfare standpoint.”
Co-plaintiff with ALDF in the lawsuit was Ella Nemcova, whose company The Regal Vegan produces a humane, plant-based alternative called “Faux Gras.” The lawsuit contended that Hudson Valley’s manipulative marketing tactics unfairly encouraged consumers to purchase force-fed foie gras over cruelty-free products like The Regal Vegan’s. “The resolution of ALDF’s lawsuit signifies a major victory for consumers and legitimately humane companies like The Regal Vegan by discouraging the deceptive use of the term ‘humane’ in cruelly-made products,” says Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “It is also important for these force-fed ducks that Hudson Valley Foie Gras is no longer promoting its cruel practices as ‘humane’ to unsuspecting consumers.”
Copies of the lawsuit are available by request.