Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Hudson Valley Foie GrasPosted on November 13, 2012
Lawsuit Targets New York Foie Gras Producer’s False “Humane” Advertising Claims
For immediate release
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF
|Baby ducks in trash bin at the “humane” Hudson Valley Foie Gras. (Photo by APRL)|
NEW YORK — Today, the national nonprofit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a complaint with the U.S District Court of Northern California against New York-based Hudson Valley Foie Gras (HVFG) for false advertising. The lawsuit alleges that HVFG, the largest foie gras producer in the nation, violated the federal Lanham Act and California’s False Advertising and Unfair Competition Laws by claiming to be “the Humane Choice” while using inhumane practices. The lawsuit marks the first time a humane competitor has used false advertising laws in a federal case alongside an animal protection group. Co-plaintiff Ella Nemcova’s Brooklyn-based company The Regal Vegan produces a legitimately humane plant-derived foie gras alternative called “Faux Gras.” HVFG’s deceptive tactics unfairly encourage consumers to buy its force-fed foie gras instead of cruelty-free products like The Regal Vegan’s.
Hudson Valley’s foie gras products are sold at gourmet prices at world-renowned Manhattan restaurants including Eleven Madison Park, La Silhouette, Paradou, Per Se, and Plein Sud. Yet this cruelly-made product is derived from force-feeding young ducks with enormous amounts of grain in order to produce abnormally large livers, eight or more times the size of a healthy liver. Although foie gras consumers may claim ducks gorge naturally before migration, ducks do not naturally feast to the point they cannot walk, stand, fly, or breathe easily, and are on the verge of death. The normal eating patterns of ducks would never cause their livers to expand to the shocking degree found in force-fed ducks at Hudson Valley.
The force-feeding process causes ducks to develop an extremely painful liver disease known as hepatic lipidosis, which often leads to respiratory distress, diarrhea, depression, loss of appetite, neurological damage, seizure, and even death. Injuries from force-feeding are common, and can cause bacterial infection, fungal growth, pneumonia, and bone fractures. Avian pathologists agree that force-fed foie gras production is so painful for ducks that foie gras can never be “humane.” In 2011, New York’s online grocery-shopping service FreshDirect pulled Hudson Valley Foie Gras products from its offerings because of animal welfare concerns. Meanwhile, California has been the largest market for HVFG products, which remain available online to purchasers despite California’s ban on the sale of foie gras.
“Hudson Valley Foie Gras has profited from well-meaning consumers who believe they are buying humane products,” says Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “And yet, Hudson Valley engages in practices that amount to torture. Consumers deserve to know the truth about the exploitation of ducks and the reality behind foie gras’s force-fed lies.”
Copies of the lawsuit are available upon request.