Foie gras is back on the menu at high end restaurants and chefs are celebrating, comparing their joy to the end of Prohibition. A 2004 law banned the sale of fatty duck or goose liver that used force-feeding to plump up animals, and was upheld by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. That changed, Wednesday. Foie producers from New York and Canada, and a Manhattan Beach restaurant group argued that a federal law regulating poultry production prevents California from specifying what can go into a duck or goose. Federal judge Stephen V. Wilson agreed. The ban was immediately overturned and foie gras started popping up in ice cream, cotton candy, terrines and more as early as Wednesday night.
California can defend its law. Attorney General Kamala Harris is “reviewing the ruling.” according to spokesman David Beltran. Animal rights activists are pushing the attorney general to continue the litigation. The state has 30 days to begin an appeal, or let the ruling stand.
In the meantime, the return of foie gras is delighting gourmands and disappointing activists who pushed to get the ban enacted over 10 years ago. If the Attorney General doesn’t appeal, is there a legal path forward for animal rights activists?
Drew Alexis, general counsel for Farm Sanctuary, an organization that advocated for the original ban, as well asadjunct professor of law at Southwestern Law School