Tag Archives foie gras

Following a California settlement, Amazon has reportedly agreed to stop selling foie gras produced from force-fed ducks and geese. The settlement between the company and Los Angeles County stems from a lawsuit alleging that Amazon violated a 2004 California law banning the sale of the products. Under the agreement, Amazon will not sell—or allow its third-party sellers to offer for sale—force-fed foie gras in California for five years. A lawsuit seeking to invalidate the ban awaits a ruling on certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit found that the statute was not preempted by the Poultry Products Inspection Act.

The Ninth Circuit has upheld California’s ban on force-feeding ducks and geese to produce foie gras, finding the state’s law is not preempted by the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA). Assoc. des Éleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Québec v. Becerra, No. 15- 55192 (9th Cir., opinion filed September 15, 2017). In 2013, the Ninth Circuit rejected a constitutional challenge to the ban filed by the same plaintiffs. The court reversed a grant of summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, who challenged the state’s ban on sales or production of foie gras made from force-fed birds. First, the court held the ban is not expressly preempted by the PPIA because the federal statute’s “ingredient” requirement addresses the components of poultry products, not husbandry or feeding practices, and California’s law does not ban all foie gras—only that made from force-fed birds. “Nothing in the federal law … limits a state’s…

A California federal court has granted the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) motion for summary judgment in a case alleging the agency acted arbitrarily in denying a petition to prohibit foie gras produced from force-fed poultry. Animal Legal Def. Fund v. USDA, No. 12-4028 (C.D. Cal., order entered December 14, 2016). In the petition for rulemaking, several animal rights organizations and individuals argued force-feeding poultry caused hepatic lipidosis in the animals, rendering them unhealthy and unsafe for consumption; USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) disagreed, finding that the buildup of fat from force-feeding did not make the liver unsafe to consume, unlike buildup related to disease. The court first determined that the Animal Legal Defense Fund and other plaintiff organizations had standing to sue, but the plaintiff individuals did not. Turning to the merits of the case, the court considered the plaintiffs’ three challenges to FSIS’s decision: (i) “its explanation for…

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) can sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its Food Safety and Inspection Service’s denial of a petition for rulemaking on prohibiting force-fed foie gras. Animal Legal Def. Fund v. U.S. Dep’t of Agric., No. 13-55868 (9th Cir., order entered December 7, 2015). The district court had dismissed the action sua sponte after determining the denial was equivalent to a non-enforcement decision and thus not reviewable by the court. The appeals court described two exceptions that limit when an individual can challenge a final agency decision in court under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), finding the district court had erred in determining the foie gras denial fell into one of the exceptions. The court distinguished “agency decisions not to take enforcement actions,” which cannot be subjected to judicial review and involve past breaches of existing…

The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) alleging a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) based on USDA’s lack of response to ALDF’s 2011 rulemaking petition requesting mandatory labeling on foie gras produced through the forced feeding of ducks or geese. Animal Legal Def. Fund v. U.S. Dep’t of Agric., No. 15-5063 (N.D. Cal., San Francisco Div., filed November 5, 2015). ALDF argues that force-fed foie gras products are mislabeled because USDA certifies them as “[i]nspected for wholesomeness” despite the fact that force-feeding “induces a metabolic disease and commonly results in the onset of all of the conditions mentioned in [USDA’s Poultry Products Inspection Act].” The organization seeks a declaration that USDA has violated the APA and an injunction compelling the agency to substantively respond to the petition. “The USDA is responsible for ensuring that all poultry products that…

A California appeals court has rejected a Napa restaurant’s attempt to circumvent the state’s foie gras ban by describing it as a gift for ordering another dish then arguing that a resulting suit brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) seeking an injunction was merely a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) in violation of the state anti-SLAPP statute. Animal Legal Def. Fund v. LT Napa Partners LLC, No. A139615 (Cal. Ct. App., order entered March 5, 2015). Additional information on the foie gras ban, which a California federal court struck down in January 2015, appears in Issue 550 of this Update. Kenneth Frank, the head chef at Napa’s La Toque restaurant, was a vocal opponent of California’s foie gras ban; he testified at state senate hearings, participated in public debates and authored a newspaper opinion piece on the subject. On three occasions, ALDF sent an investigator to La Toque…

The office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris will appeal the January 2015 decision overturning the state’s ban on foie gras, according to a notice of appeal filed in California federal court. Association des Éleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Québec v. Harris, No. 12 5735 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., notice of appeal filed February 4, 2015). The prohibition was found to impose “[m]arking, labeling, packaging, or ingredient requirements” that interfered with the free flow of poultry products in violation of the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. The AG’s 1-page notice of appeal cited no arguments supporting its challenge. Additional details about the district court decision appear in Issue 550 of this Update.   Issue 554

A California federal court has held that the state law prohibiting the sale of foie gras resulting from the forcefeeding of ducks or geese is preempted by a federal law regulating the distribution and sale of poultry products. Association des Éleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Québec v. Harris, No. 12-5735 (C.D. Cal., order entered January 7, 2015). The Ninth Circuit previously affirmed a lower court’s denial of a temporary injunction sought by the plaintiffs based on a failure to show a likelihood of success on the merits of their vagueness or commerce clause challenges. Additional information about the Ninth Circuit ruling appears in Issue 497 of this Update, and details about the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari to review that decision appear in Issue 542. The court first found that the plaintiffs had standing to challenge the ban despite that defendant Kamala Harris, in her capacity as state attorney…

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has denied a petition seeking review of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding a California law prohibiting the sale of commodities, such as foie gras, produced by “force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size.” Association des Éleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Québec v. Harris, No. 13-1313 (U.S., certiorari denied October 14, 2014). Details about the Ninth Circuit decision appear in Issue 497 of this Update. Among other matters, the Ninth Circuit had found that a number of the issues presented by the plaintiffs were premature because they had appealed the denial of a motion for preliminary injunction. The question that out-of-state fois gras producers presented to SCOTUS was “[w]hether the Commerce Clause allows California to impose a complete ban on the sale of wholesome, USDA-approved poultry products from other States and countries—in this case, foie…

Animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is currently engaged in a campaign to ban foie gras production throughout the European Union (EU). Writing in the September 17, 2014, issue of The Parliament Magazine, PETA UK Director Mimi Bekhechi urges readers to sign a letter to EU officials calling on them to stop the production of foie gras, produced by force-feeding ducks and geese to enlarge their livers, in Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, and Spain. Bekhechi cites scientific evidence as clear proof “that the production of foie gras is not only cruel but also incompatible with the European Commission’s regulations on food production.” According to PETA, more than 200,000 individuals have already signed the letter. PETA also claims that “many animals on foie gras farms are kept in cramped cages that do not comply with Council of Europe recommendations.”   Issue 538

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