Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Hudson Valley Foie Gras

Posted 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.

9 thoughts on “Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Hudson Valley Foie Gras

  1. Justin Morahan says:

    Keep up the good work against foie gras.

  2. Vicki says:

    This is absolutely horrible and I would like action taken immediately to stop the inhumane action. I’d like to force feed some of the people involved and see how they feel about it then. I am continually suprized at what tortures humans can come up with to torture animals. This is unthinkable.

  3. joypercial says:

    This is just another disgusting act that human beings project onto a defenceless animal. When will all of this abuse STOP?

  4. jake W. says:

    READ THIS: we need to petition congress to enact a law that forcses people that abuse animals to register like sex offenders do. where ever they live, what ever town they live in they would be forced to register at the sheriff department as an animal abuser and their offense would be of public record. we the public need to take a PRO-ACTIVE stance and stop it befor it happens in the first place. the ALDF has made so many wonderfull things happen in animal defense, this would be another step forward in defending the precious beings that cannot defend their selves. please help!

  5. IE Ries says:

    All of these pathological abuses of “others,” be it women, children, the elderly, other species – all of these are violent behaviot’urs that law enforcement knows is CORRELATED. Where one appears, the others are usually present.

    And yet year after year, we as humans SELECTIVELY allow and permit the abuse of SOME species as “business” while slapping the hands of humans who abuse other animals (usually the ones labeled “pets”).

    Why the double standard? Why the disparity? Do we love the idea of a “pet” so much that we’ll only protect those animals (and then it’s normally just lip service most of the time) but keep abusing other animals “because we can” or because “it’s business”?

    Those who supported human slavery used ALL the same arguments to keep doing what they were doing – getting something they wanted out another, at that other’s dire expense – until finally enough voices realized that it was unacceptable to force others to live this way, to exist merely to serve the exploits and appetites of another.

    When are we going to stop the double standards, excuses and hypocrisy and apply the standard of slavery unilaterally the way it is SUPPOSED to be applied and stamp out ALL the manifestations of slavery?

    These birds – they are being held as concentration camp victims and tortured. How their their experience fall outside the definition of slavery? They have no rights, they cannot advocate for themselves, they can be bought, sold and executed on whim, their torture and murder brings no civil or legal consequences…how does this fail to meet the definition of slavery???

    ALDF – please keep fighting on behalf of the enslaved, turn a light on the dark, horrible secrets and practices our species likes to pretend is “just business” and expose it for what it REALLY IS!

  6. Michele Jankelow says:

    I admire the work you are doing tremendously. I do believe that if people witnessed the horror of the foie gras industry and know what animals are subjected that the market would die. Please do keep up the pressure, inform and make people aware of what animals are subjected to by unscrupulous people and all for money! Information and education will ultimately change the horrors.

  7. lizzard says:

    Amy Hepworth, of Hepworth Farms [supposedly organic, but one has to wonder with your endorsment of DDT], are you FOR or AGAINST this incredibly cruel & in-humane treatment of animals???

  8. Karen says:

    It is very difficult to maintain relationships with people who continue to uphold this practice. The worst excuse for it, and the one that reveals a persons true colors, is that they are exercising and upholding it for the sake of tradition. That comment makes me realize this: some people believe that mere concepts like tradition are more important than the living. They use the shield of tradition to excuse every kind of evil. It is pure cowardice. Take responsibility for your own actions.

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