Attorney General's Appeal Aims to Re-Ban Foie Gras in California

Animal rights activists rejoice as the sale of force-fed, fattened duck and goose liver may again be illegalized in the Golden State.

(Photo: Facebook)

Feb 4, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Josh Scherer has written for Epicurious, Thrillist, and Los Angeles magazine. He is constantly covered in corn chip crumbs.

Attorney General Kamala Harris has officially filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit challenging the constitutionality of Judge Stephen Wilson's Jan. 7 decision to overturn California's two-and-a-half-year foie gras ban.

Wilson ruled that because foie gras was an ingredient, and all poultry ingredients are regulated nationwide by the Poultry Inspections Act of 1957, a state had no right to interfere with a federal law. The obvious fix would be to reword the ban to exclude the process of force-feeding rather than the ingredient itself, but Harris' office has not yet commented on the appeal.

When the ban was initially overturned, most chefs were elated that the $65-a-pound fatty fowl liver would be making its awaited return to their menus. The restaurant Terrine in Los Angeles even threw a six-course foie gras dinner party in celebration, which was met by the megaphones and picket signs of PETA protesters.

But not all chefs were excited. Wolfgang Puck has long decried the brutality of force-feeding—a process known as gavage—and he wrote an open letter in 2012 to fellow chefs announcing that he stood in solidarity with the ban.

Chef Kyle Schutte might not be as famous as Puck, but he hates the force-feeding of ducks just as much. Well, he probably hates it more, considering that Puck still serves foie gras in his Singapore restaurants, but that’s another story. Schutte started a petition urging Harris to appeal the overturn of the foie gras ban, which—as the petition points out—was standing on some pretty shaky legal ground.

After getting 6,000 signatures in less than a month, Schutte announced today with an update simply titled “Victory” that an appeal had been filed. “Now the appellate court will be able to consider whether California should be able to continue enforcing its humane law against the sale of foie gras from force fed ducks,” he wrote.

The decision to appeal has also earned praise from The Humane Society: "Kamala Harris is right to appeal this questionable ruling. California has the right to prevent the commerce in such a cruel and inhumane product," said Vice President Paul Shapiro.

It is possible that an injunction could be filed to reenact the foie gras ban in California while the appeal is being mediated, but until then, you can head over to Terrine for some seared foie gras with chanterelles and Banyuls vinegar.