Chicago Repeals Ban on Foie Gras!

Chicago’s Mayor Richard M. Daley in a maneuver reminiscent of the politics of his infamous father, former Mayor Richard J. Daley, refused to allow debate of a measure voted on this week by the City Council to repeal the city’s ban on foie gras. Alderman Thomas Tunney, a restaurant owner and supporter of the mayor, maneuvered the repeal to a vote, and the measure passed this past week by a vote of 37-6.

Alderman Joe Moore, who originally sponsored the ban, was not allowed to speak before the vote, but did shout objections as the vote took place. Along with Moore, Toni Preckwinckle, Ricardo Munoz, Ed Smith, Scott Waguespack and Rey Colon voted against the repeal of the now two year old ban.

The 2006 Chicago ordinance was the second such ban to be passed in the U.S. In 2004 the California enacted a state law, Cal Health & Saf Code §§ 25980-25984, to outlaw not only the sale but also the production of foie gras statewide. The law does not take effect until 2012.

But Mayor Daley declared the ban "the silliest law the City Council has ever passed". Several Chicago restaurants as well as the Illinois Restaurant Association complained about the ban and the IRA along with a restaurateur even filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, challenging the constitutionality of the city’s action in banning foie gras.  U.S. District Judge Blanche M. Manning later dismissed the case.

Foie gras is considered a delicacy. It is fattened duck or goose liver. To make foie gras, producers confine ducks or geese in sheds and force feed them extraordinary quantities of food two or three times each day for some weeks. To force feed these animals, a metal pipe is shoved down their throats. Food is then pushed through the pipe into their stomachs. The birds are forced to consume each day ¼ to 1/3 of their body weight. The force feeding results in livers swollen to ten times their normal size and fatty liver disease. The animals have difficulty standing, walking and breathing. They choke and suffer ruptured throats. Their legs become crippled and they develop sores.

These birds are denied all natural behaviors as they are tortured each day in a dark shed. Many die during this process. It is an understatement to describe it as a cruel and inhumane process.

Surely, humans do not need to torture animals to create delicacies.

There are bans against force feeding in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Turkey, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland and 6 of the 9 Austrian provinces.  Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that force feeding violates the nation’s anti-cruelty laws. Animal cruelty laws in The Netherlands or Holland, South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden and the UK have been interpreted to apply to force feeding to produce foie gras. Last fall the City of York became the first city in the UK to ban foie gras. The European Union has called for alternatives to ban force feeding of ducks and geese within fifteen years, apparently to give France and Hungary, large foie gras producers, time to find alternatives.

Nearly 80% of Americans support such a ban.

Flying snow geese


Click here for a list of businesses that have refused to sell or support the production of foie gras 

Click here for more information about the cruelty of foie gras production.

Click here for more on the effort to ban foie gras in New York.


© by Laura Allen for the Animal Law Coalition