A federal judge in Los Angeles on Thursday rejected an emergency bid to freeze California's recently enacted ban on the sale of foie gras, the delicacy prepared from the force-feeding of ducks and geese.
U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson set a further hearing for next month, telling plaintiffs that their request for a temporary restraining order should have been filed far earlier than July 5. The matter does not require urgency, he said.
—which operates eateries in Hermosa Beach and Northridge—along with the Canadian duck-farming trade organization Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Quebec and New York-based producer Hudson Valley Foie Gras contend the statewide ban is "unconstitutional, vague and interferes with federal commerce laws."
Attorney Michael Tenenbaum, who filed the federal civil suit against the state, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Gov. Jerry Brown, said his clients alone are losing at least $15,000 each day as a result of the law.
"Everybody's freaked out," he said outside court. "We're in a state of limbo. This is having a chilling effect on the industry because California is a huge market for the product."
Tenenbaum insists the law is too vague because it does not detail methods to measure the point at which a bird has been illegally overfed.
"No duck being fed today (in California) is in violation of the statute," the attorney said, adding that his clients are nonetheless being harmed by the ban.
The law banning the production and sale of foie gras—French for "fat liver"—and its byproducts went into effect July 1. Restaurants serving the gourmet item can be fined up to $1,000.
Foie gras is usually produced through a process in which ducks or geese are force-fed corn through tubes inserted in their throats, a practice seen as inhumane by animal rights activists.
Animal lovers crusaded against force feeding, persuading the Legislature to outlaw the practice, which effectively banned the delicacy in the state.