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  • Writer's pictureMatt Wampler

Foie Gras: NYC Ban Gets the Goose

December 27th, 2022

Foie gras, a French term meaning "fat liver," is a luxury food made from the livers of ducks or geese that have been fattened through a process called "gavage," in which the birds are force-fed large amounts of grain through a tube inserted down their throats. This process is used to create a liver that is significantly larger than normal and has a smooth, buttery texture.

Foie gras has a long history in France, where it has been a traditional delicacy for centuries. It was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s by immigrants from Europe, and it has been consumed in the country for over a hundred years.

However, the production of foie gras has been a controversial issue in the United States in recent years. Critics argue that the process of force-feeding is inhumane and causes unnecessary suffering to the birds. In response to these concerns, a number of states and localities in the US have banned the production or sale of foie gras.

In 2004, Chicago became the first city in the US to ban foie gras, citing animal cruelty concerns. The ban was later overturned in 2006. In 2012, California became the first state to ban foie gras, prohibiting the production and sale of the product. However, a court challenge by farmers resulted in the ban being lifted for retail vendors whose birds were raised out of state, while the prohibition on sales by restaurants remained in place.

In 2019, New York City passed a law banning the sale of foie gras within the metro area, set to take effect on November 25, 2022. However, a temporary stay of enforcement was issued by a State Supreme Court judge in September after the Catskill Foie Gras Collective, a coalition of geese and duck farmers, argued that the city's action was illegal.

The recent decision by the agriculture department to block the ban has been seen as a victory for the Foie Gras Collective and a defeat for animal rights advocates. The department cited Agriculture and Markets Law 305, which prohibits non-agricultural areas from legislating what farmers can produce, as the basis for their decision.

This decision is just the latest in a series of legislative measures that have impacted the restaurant industry in recent years. In 2018, California became the first state to require restaurants to offer straws only upon request in an effort to reduce plastic waste. Other states, including New York and Oregon, have implemented similar measures.

Additionally, the minimum wage for restaurant workers has been a contentious issue in many states, with some lawmakers pushing for increases to help workers make a living wage. The restaurant industry has argued that such increases would result in higher menu prices and potentially lead to job losses.

As the role of government in regulating the food industry continues to be debated, it is clear that these types of legislative measures will continue to have a significant impact on restaurants and the wider food industry.



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