Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues New York State Agricultural Department, Leading Foie Gras Producers For Allowing Sale Of Diseased Food

Posted on September 25, 2012

Lawsuit Targets Failure to Declare Potential Health Risks of Products from Force-Fed Ducks and Geese

For immediate release

Megan Backus, ALDF

ALBANY, N.Y. – This morning, the national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a complaint against the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (“the Department”) for violating New York’s Agriculture and Markets Law by allowing the ongoing sale of foie gras in the state of New York. Foie gras prodcuers Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Bella Poultry, and La Belle Farm are also named in the complaint for their complicit reliance upon the Department’s violation of the law. This law requires “the product of a diseased animal” to be declared an adulterated food product. The complaint demonstrates that the failure of the Department to declare foie gras an wholesome food has resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands (and possibly millions) of diseased birds, whose organs are then distributed into the human food supply. Jonathan G. Schopf with the Vincelette Law Firm in Albany is pro bono counsel in the case.

ALDF is asking the court to compel the Department to prohibit the distribution of foie gras, which is the pathologically diseased liver of force-fed ducks and geese. The force-feeding process causes the livers of the birds to swell to over ten times their normal size and induces a liver disease known as hepatic lipidosis.

California has already passed a ban on the production and sale of foie gras, which went into effect on July 1, 2012; over a dozen countries have a similar ban. In addition to the animal cruelty concerns that inspired these laws, there are serious health concerns over human consumption of the diseased product. Studies show that consuming foie gras has been linked to a fatal disease called secondary amyloidosis.

“When the Department fails to condemn diseased poultry products, they are failing to comply with Agriculture and Markets Law section 200,” says Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Countless birds are suffering because of the state of New York’s negligence. The state might not have a humane law like California, but it should at least be able to follow its own food safety law.”

One thought on “Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues New York State Agricultural Department, Leading Foie Gras Producers For Allowing Sale Of Diseased Food

  1. Teresa Russo says:

    Thank you for initiating this lawsuit. Foie gras production is horribly cruel. The photos and videos of the birds being force fed are sickening. I remember seeing a clip from the movie “Mono Cane” when I was a child. It was a documentary type of movie, showing strange practices from around the world. One segment showed a goose being force fed, and the camera zoomed in on the expression in the goose’s eye while this was happening. This sight has stayed with me my entire life.

    I had worked with an animal rights organization back in 2006, contacting NYC restaurants and chefs to ask them to stop serving foie gras. I had also contacted City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to ask her to support a local bill to ban foie gras. The chefs and restaurant owners didn’t respond. Speaker Quinn sent out a form letter saying that she thought that the foie gras industry was important because of the revenue that the city was making off the sale of foie gras. She refused to let any such bill be introduced into the City Council.

    It’s been very frustrating. I was very happy to see that you’ve started this lawsuit. Good luck, please keep me informed.

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