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Foie gras: Cruelty Made in France

Information: Stop Gavage, France

1 December 2008

Foie gras in France and around the world.

Foie gras is produced and consumed in several countries around the world but this industry which entails the forced overfeeding of birds is largely concentrated in one country: France. In addition, these are French manufacturers who export the “know-how” to new producers (China), who hold large stakes in companies in the world’s second largest producer (Hungary), that promote foie gras in the USA, etc.

In 2007, 27,000 tonnes of foie gras were produced around the world. Each share in total output is as follows (1):

France: 76%
Hungary: 9%
Bulgaria: 8%
Spain: 4%
USA: 1%
China: 1%
Canada (Québec) : 0.6%
Israel: 0.4%
Belgium: 0.4%


France alone consumes 68% of the world’s production of foie gras. (2)

The foie gras sector obtained from the French Parliament in 2005 a law stating "Foie gras is part of the protected cultural and gastronomic heritage in France." (3) France is now asking UNESCO to rank French gastronomy as "world heritage".


How is foie gras produced in the "country of gastronomy"?

Foie gras is an industrial production dominated by large groups (Euralis Gastronomie, Delpeyrat and Labeyrie). The traditional small producers account for only 12% of production (4). More than 97% of the overfed birds are ducks and thus less than 3% are geese. (5)

Eighty million ducklings are born each year to produce foie gras. Straightaway after hatching, sexing directs the majority of females to death by gassing or grinding. The force feeding of males begins at the age of 80 days. The majority (75%) are placed in tiny individual cages. The others are locked in collective pens. Twice a day, a tube is pushed down their stomachs and up to 1 kg of corn mash is injected in a few seconds by using pneumatic or hydraulic pumps. After 12 days, if they’re not already dead, they are led to the slaughterhouse to be killed and turned into fat livers and duck meat.

At the end of the feeding period, the liver has reached up to 10 times its normal size. Other organs are compressed, the regulation of body temperature is altered, the gasping birds suffer from diarrhea. Many diseases develop because of the feeding, (diseases of the digestive system, bone demineralization) as well as injuries caused by the passage of the feeding tube. Many birds are unable to endure this treatment and die before slaughter. The mortality rate during the feeding period is 6 times higher than during the breeding period which precedes it.

Learn more about the production of foie gras through images.


An increasingly controversial product globally

Everywhere, animal protection organizations are mobilizing against foie gras. In 1998, a report by experts from the European Commission stated that force-feeding is detrimental to the birds. (6)

Force-feeding is banned in many countries, either by general legislation on animals or through specific regulation. During the last decade, this ban was extended to countries and to a state of the USA that previously were producers : Poland, Italy, Israel, California. (7)

Meanwhile, production, consumption and exports of French foie gras were rising inexorably at a steady pace.

Yet things are changing in the land of the cruel delicacy. Objections to this barbaric practice have become much more audible since the creation of Stop Gavage in 2003 (8). The images shot on farms unveil a reality ignored by the public. With the approach of the festive season, various organizations are mobilizing in many cities to inform people about what the force-fed birds have to endure. Nowadays, the French media report that foie gras is a controversial product. It was not so only five years ago.

In the first 3 quarters of 2008, French exports of foie gras have fallen by 15% compared to the same period in 2007. Since early 2008, imports of foie gras to France fell by 20% and household consumption is declining. The world economic crisis of recent months has undoubtedly played a part but these trends arose before it started. (9)

Is this the beginning of the end of cruelty made in France?


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(1) Comité interprofessionnel des palmipèdes à foie gras (CIFOG), Rapport économique 2007, 2008
(2) Consommation estimée en France en 2007 : 18 300 T. Office national interprofessionnel des viandes, de l'élevage et de l'aviculture (OFIVAL), Le marché des produits laitiers, carnés et avicoles en 2007 - Le marché des produits avicoles en France, février 2008, http://www.office-elevage.fr/publications/marche2007/Volaille/VOL-FR.pdf
(3) Art. L. 654-27-1 du code rural, http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/WAspad/UnArticleDeCode?code=CRURALNL.rcv&art=L654-27-1
(4) Institut technique de l'aviculture, Résultats Technico-économiques des éleveurs et gaveurs de palmipèdes gras - résultats 2006, 2007.
(5) Le marché des produits laitiers, carnés et avicoles en 2007 - Le marché des produits avicoles en France, op. cit.
(6) Commission européenne - Comité scientifique de la santé et du bien-être des animaux, Welfare Aspects of the Production of Foie Gras in Ducks and Geese, 16 décembre 1998, http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/sc/scah/out17_en.html
(7) http://www.stopgavage.com/monde.php
(8) http://www.stopgavage.com
(9) Office national interprofessionnel des viandes, de l'élevage et de l'aviculture (OFIVAL) - Comité Palmipèdes à Foie Gras, Palmipèdes à foie gras : Situation des marchés , 20 novembre 2008. http://www.office-elevage.fr/instances/c-palm/20-11-08/CPFG_2008-11-20.pdf


Source: Stop Gavage (a campaign of L214)
Author: Antoine Comiti, Brigitte Gothière, Estiva Reus - Translation Ciaran Reilly

Link: L214
Link: Roux condemns foie gras production as inhumane/One of the world's most influential chefs has criticised the methods used to produce foie gras, saying the product should carry a similar warning to cigarettes to ensure consumers are aware ...

Date: 2008-12-01

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Foie gras : la cruauté made in France (fr)

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