Animal Groups Sue USDA for Allowing Sale of Foie Gras From Diseased Birds

Posted on May 9, 2012

Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act Requires USDA to Prohibit Adulterated Livers from Entering Food Supply

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Meredith Turner, Farm Sanctuary
Cheryl Leahy, Compassion Over Killing
Bryan Pease, Animal Protection and Rescue League

Speak out against foie gras!Los Angeles – This morning, the national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Farm Sanctuary, Compassion Over Killing, the Animal Protection and Rescue League, and several individual plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for violating the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) by allowing adulterated poultry–in the form of foie gras–to be sold to consumers. Under PPIA, the USDA is responsible for condemning all poultry products that come from diseased birds. Foie gras consists of the pathologically diseased livers of ducks who are force-fed massive amounts of grain, inducing the disease of hepatic lipidosis, which causes their livers to swell to ten times their normal size. Plaintiffs are being represented in this matter by lawyers in the Los Angeles office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, as co-counsel with ALDF.

Why is the USDA under fire for supporting cruelty to animals and putting human health at risk? The unhealthy force-feeding of birds for foie gras production has been banned because of its egregious cruelty in over a dozen countries, and a California state ban will go into effect on July 1, 2012. Further, in addition to being diseased, foie gras products may induce disease. A recent study published by the National Academy of Sciences linked the consumption of foie gras to secondary amyloidosis, a deadly disease that affects humans. People with chronic inflammatory disease, including the 2.1 million Americans who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, are at greater risk for developing secondary amyloidosis after eating force-fed foie gras.

“The USDA is effectively exempting force-fed foie gras from the scrutiny required by federal law, allowing foie gras producers to market diseased organs as gourmet delicacies,” says ALDF executive director Stephen Wells. In the past, ALDF has petitioned the USDA to use warning labels on foie gras–the “fatty liver” of a force-fed duck or goose–reading “NOTICE: Foie gras products are derived from diseased birds.”

Bruce Friedrich, senior director of strategic initiatives at Farm Sanctuary, states , “For the same reason we wouldn’t induce liver disease in dogs and cats, slice the animals’ throats open, and then eat their diseased organs–we shouldn’t treat any animal so horribly.”

“Compassion Over Killing’s investigation inside a foie gras factory farm in New York uncovered what can only be described as a torture chamber: birds are grabbed by their necks or wings and a metal pipe is shoved down their throats in order to forcefully pump large quantities of food into their stomachs,” says Cheryl Leahy, general counsel at Compassion Over Killing. “These animals suffer immensely from this force-feeding, and then they are shackled upside-down and slaughtered.”

APRL’s Bryan Pease adds, “Last year’s industry-wide investigation, posted at, shows that foie gras production is just as inhumane as when California’s foie gras ban was passed seven years ago.”

12 thoughts on “Animal Groups Sue USDA for Allowing Sale of Foie Gras From Diseased Birds

  1. Every Foie gras Farm must be stopped, just now

    because it´s so cruel and horrible pain for

    these wonderful geese.

    Not one goos should be treated in this horrible


    Präsident Barrack Obama please help the geese on

    Foie gras farms, As fast as possible.

  2. fiona munro says:

    Lets Get Foie Gras Banned Group!

  3. Irina Seifert says:

    Terrible! It should be really stoped!

  4. Lynette D says:

    Disgusting, arcane practice. It’s not necessary for survival, so don’t buy it, ever.

  5. Norma Garton says:

    This is horrific!!!! How can it be allowed during this, so called, civilized age. so barbaric. It just has to be stopped! How do people justify treating living creatures in this way!!

  6. sue anne konkle says:

    It is hideous behavior on human part. God did not intend this horrible fate for ducks and/or geese. Anyone that has ever had a duck or fed a duck knows that this animal is gentle and defenseless. The people that eat this should take a look at this video. And shame on the chefs that serve it in their restaurants!!! I want to know how many chefs have seen this video and still serve it?

  7. Anne Canwell says:

    Such blatant cruelty! I’m sure this takes place in Canada, too. Wish someone here in Canada would take action to stop this horrific cruelty against defenseless birds. It must be stopped!

  8. Sharon MacKenzie says:

    Do humans have the right to decide this is the fate for geese? I think not. What does it come down to…monetary gain for those involved and marketing this as a delicacy…a must have, like the latest style in handbags. Do humans really want to live like this…their immediate gratification must be met, whatever the cost to animals. Wake up, my fellow human beings. You will never evolve any further or be able to call yourself civilised until you realise that being human has a responsibility to others weaker than yourself….eg. Animals. BAN FOIE GRAS!!!

  9. Jonathan says:

    Horrible techniques… I wish I could grab the owners of those establishments and force feed them with a tube also.

  10. Andrea Baker says:

    Force feeding any animal is cruel.When did this world come to this kind of greed. Everyone is so worried about mass production, more meat, bigger animals, and for what? I do not see how these people that work at these companies can inflict this type of practice on any living thing.I believe this type of treatment to animals can be stopped if strict laws would be passed in the USA and consequences paid for their actions.

  11. J Stewart says:

    Have you ever tried foie gras? It’s delicious.

    What’s more, the forced feeding dates over 4000 thousand years.

    And this “connection to amyloidosis” is a theory, with nothing confirming humans developing reactive systemic amyloidosis after eating foie gras.

    I find it difficult to believe that groups like the ALDF are exploiting the purpose of the USDA’s rule against “diseased foul,” and attempting to call these foul, developed by methods deeply rooted in French history and tradition, diseased.

    It’s a travesty.

  12. Jacqueline says:

    There needs to be more awareness about how Foie Gras is produced! Most people purchasing don’t realize where these products come from. And often when they are shown, people tend to ignore things they don’t like to see. It’s a terrible practice and the process needs to be explained in order to stop this. Tell all your friends and family – animals should not suffer like this because we want to eat a “delicacy”

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