Written by City News Service
A federal appeals court panel in Pasadena Friday upheld the state's ban on the sale of foie gras, a delicacy made from the fattened livers of force-fed ducks.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments that the ban interferes with interstate and foreign commerce and is too vague.
An association of producers who supply Canada's foie gras imports to the United States and Hudson Valley Foie Gras, the largest domestic producer, sued in Los Angeles to overturn the 2004 law.
The plaintiffs appealed to the circuit court after U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson denied an argument that the law is unconstitutional because it regulates the feeding of ducks outside California.
The measure bans force-feeding ducks or geese to make foie gras within California and bars sales of foie gras produced elsewhere if it's made by force- feeding a bird to enlarge its liver beyond normal size.
Animal lovers crusaded against force feeding, persuading the Legislature to outlaw the practice.
The court's 27-page opinion details the process by which foie gras is produced by inserting a tube in ducks' throats after weeks of fattening.
The foie gras in question is made from Moulard ducks, "a hybrid of Muscovy male ducks and Pekin female ducks. They are bred for their capacity of ingestion and fat storage in their livers," Judge Harry Pregerson wrote on behalf of the appellate panel.
"The Canadian Farmers and Hudson Valley take one-day-old ducks from the hatchery to breeding farms," he wrote. "There, the ducks are raised until they are fully grown, a process that generally takes 11 to 13 weeks. For the first four weeks of their lives, the ducks eat pellets from feeding pans that are available to them 24 hours a day.
"In the next stage, which lasts one to two months, the ducks eat different pellets from feeding pans that are available to them 24 hours a day," Pregerson wrote. "For the next two weeks, the ducks continue to eat pellets from feeding pans that are available to them at only certain times during the day. In the final stage, called 'gavage,' which lasts between 10 to 13 days, the ducks are hand-fed by feeders who use a tube to deliver the feed to the crop sac at the base of the duck's esophagus."
A restaurant caught serving the gourmet item in California can be fined up to $1,000 a day. Enforcement was postponed to allow producers to find an alternative to force-feeding. None was found and the law went into effect July 1.