What is Foie Gras?
Foie gras means ‘fatty liver’, a product produced from the livers of force-fed ducks or geese and used to produce foodstuffs such as pâté de foie gras.
Foie Gras production
Foie gras is not produced in the UK, and would be illegal to produce under animal welfare laws due to the welfare problems associated with producing it. The main producers of foie gras are France, Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain and Belgium.
Before force feeding, birds are typically kept in buildings on straw bedding with access to an outdoor area.
The force-feeding period
Force-feeding begins when the birds are approximately 12 weeks old and, lasts for around 12 to 15 days when the birds are then slaughtered.
Most ducks (around 80 per cent) are kept individually in small, wire or plastic cages with their head placed through an opening in the front, so the neck is easy to grasp. During force-feeding a feeding pipe is inserted into the birds mouth and down its throat. A large quantity of food is then delivered down the pipe for 45 to 60 seconds using a motorised or hand-operated auger, or for 2 to 3 seconds using an automatic pump. The birds are usually force-fed two or three times each day.
Key welfare issues
We are opposed to the production of foie gras due to the many serious welfare problems it causes for the birds involved, including:
- Force-feeding prevents birds from carrying out their normal feeding behaviour.
- The feeding pipe can damage the birds’ throats.
- The handling involved during force-feeding can be stressful.
- Birds’ livers may become 6 to 10 times the normal size and stop working properly.
- The keeping of birds in small, individual cages doesn’t allow the birds to stand, walk, preen, stretch their wings or carry out their normal behaviours properly.
How can you help?
Please do not buy foie gras. If you see it for sale then write to the retailer’s head office, or speak to the restaurant manager, expressing your concerns and asking them not to stock it.
What are we doing?
We urge all retailers not to stock foie gras, and press all restaurants and other food retailers not to have it on their menus.
Find out about ducks farmed for meat.