Press Release

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds State’s Right to Protect Ducks from Cruelty of Foie Gras

The Animal Legal Defense Fund celebrates hard-fought victory against the cruel product


San Francisco, CA – Today, in a monumental victory for ducks, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals revived the state’s landmark law banning the sale of foie gras.

The decision reverses the lower court and ensures that foie gras, a product produced by animal torture, will once again disappear from California restaurant menus. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has long campaigned against foie gras, and filed an amicus brief with the court urging it to uphold the law, which has been under constant legal attack since going into effect over five years ago.

The three-judge panel issued a unanimous decision reaffirming the constitutionality of California’s unique statute. The court concluded the law was an anti-cruelty measure well within the state’s traditional legislative powers. The lower court had inexplicably held that the state law was an “ingredient requirement” and thus preempted by federal food safety law.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision will likely save thousands of ducks from intense suffering at the hands of foie gras producers. These producers force-feed the birds until their livers swell to many times their normal size, inducing painful liver disease that wreaks havoc on their bodies. California’s prohibition on the production of foie gras was unaffected by the decision and remains in effect.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund joins fellow animal advocates in celebrating this hard-won victory. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with other animal protection organizations, filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief urging the Ninth Circuit to reinstate the law.

“Foie gras is the result of immense suffering,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund hopes that today’s decision is the death knell for the foie gras industry’s long crusade against California’s law.”

In 2015, the Animal Legal Defense Fund won a precedent-setting case against La Toque, a Napa restaurant that purported to “give away” foie gras to circumvent the sales ban. The California Court of Appeals held that such stunts still violate the law, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund intends to pursue any restaurant in California that flouts the reinstated ban.

Focus Area

How We Work