Foie Gras Becomes Illegal on Sunday

The sale and production of goose liver becomes illegal in California on Sunday and South Bay restaurants are serving the delicacy while they still can.

South Bay chefs and restaurateurs are saying farewell to foie gras this weekend as the sale and production of the delicacy becomes illegal in the state of California on Sunday. 

The foie gras ban, which has been lauded by animal rights groups and criticized by chefs, was passed in 2004 and makes it illegal to sell or manufacture the fattened livers of geese and ducks in California.

Animal rights advocates say the force-feeding of ducks and geese to fatten their livers for foie gras is cruel, but chefs say the process is more humane than the way most chickens and cattle are treated.

The new law has several South Bay chefs rushing to serve the dish while it is still legal. At least one South Bay chef plans to ignore the ban.

At in Hermosa Beach, Chef Sean Chaney, a staunch opponent of the law, has added multiple foie gras items to the menu this weekend for what the restaurant is calling a foie gras "blowout."

Chaney, who has even traveled to Sacramento to contest the law with state politicians, believes the ban is an overreach by the government.

"I have a very tough time with the government telling us what we can and can't eat," he said. "It is just ridiculous."

Chaney said his restaurant serves, on average, about 800 to 1200 foie gras burgers each month on top of the 500 or so additional plates he sells that also use the delicacy. With a price tag of $12 to $14 per dish, the ban will hurt the restaurant's profits, he said.

"It will definitely affect sales ... We sell a lot," said Chaney.

Hot's still plans to serve the dish even, after the ban goes into effect. The restaurant will give away the foie gras portion of the dish instead of selling it. 

"Nobody is going to enforce it," Chaney said. "I am going to keep serving it until I see some enforcement show up because I want to see who is going to do that. I want to be arrested for it."

According to the Hermosa Beach Police Department, Chaney probably doesn't need to fear arrest or even the $1,000 fine associated with illegally serving foie gras. 

"I can tell you from my perspective that the Hermosa Beach Police Department is not going to make this a high priority," said HBPD Sgt. Landon Phillips.

"I highly doubt we are going to be inspecting kitchens for the serving of this delicacy," he said, but added that enforcement decisions are ultimately up to the department's division commander.

Although police say they will most likely not enforce the law, some animal rights activists say they most certainly will.

Bryan Pease, the co-founder of the Animal Protection and Rescue League in San Diego, recently told Bloomberg that his group is going to go after chefs who still serve the dish.

"We’re going to come down like a hammer on any chef or restaurant that wants to continue serving this very cruel product," Pease told the news service. "We’re going to make life very difficult for them."

Chaney said Pease can bring on the protests.

"Give him my address because I am going to keep serving it," said Chaney.  "Bring the boycotts because the boycotters don't come to my restaurant anyway," he said. "A bunch of vegans are going to boycott us? Who cares?"

Elsewhere in the South Bay, Chef Charlie Negrete plans on serving foie gras this weekend at the Redondo Beach establishment. He said reservations at the restaurant have increased in the days leading up to the ban's start date.

"The foie gras has been selling out like hotcakes," said Negrete. "We actually ran out of what we had in stock for the week, so we had to take a trip early downtown to pick up two more loaves of foie gras."

For Chaney, who was busy running around his restaurant between television and newspaper interviews on Friday, said this weekend will be a busy one for Hot's and, for now, the publicity around the ban is only helping him.

"Our reservations are through the roof right now," he said.

John Schreiber (Editor) June 29, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Do you support the ban on foie gras in California or oppose it? Let us know here!
Keith Bowen June 29, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Im sure California State Sen. Ted Lieu did his best to prevent this new law, he tried so hard to keep shark fins legal. How could he represent California?
Ted Lieu June 30, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Keith Bowen, I wanted to ban all shark products. Why should you get to still eat shark steak and wear a sharkskin belt but someone else can't have shark fin? Ted Lieu
Kent McCaman, Captain of Industry June 30, 2012 at 03:01 AM
The ban is ridiculous. Sensitivity to cruelty is noble, but a basis for it is unfounded here. Remember, these "activists" will tell you that no bird, no fish, no animal, no person, should ever be killed. They've clearly got an agenda. Why do so many people strive to impose, even legislate, their personal preferences upon others? The nature of "personal preference" in my question addresses the scope of one's sensibilities. Why is it that these people are usually Liberals? Why is it that an "activist" is always a Liberal? (Please note that only Liberals will object to the use of a generalization.) While I'm just thinking out loud, there's something about vegetarians that puzzles me. Tell me why so many vegetarians buy soy products that are fashioned to look like food items they don't want to eat -- such as hamburger patties and bacon? Be wary of the people who enable government to be intrusive. Erosion of personal liberty should summon public outrage. Yet it rarely does. Why does the average Democrat want government to meddle and intrude? As the government nanny state gets bigger, the individual becomes diminished.
Erik Stoer June 30, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Wouldn't it make more sense to go after the cruelty itself rather than the byproduct? In other words, if geese are being force-fed to fatten them, why not prosecute those guilty of this, based on laws (thankfully) prohibiting cruelty to animals, rather than enacting more laws, now aimed at chef's using the poor old goose's liver!?
teri c. June 30, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Well said, Kent!
H. Schwartz June 30, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Why don't we just ban everything, we're headed there anyway. Everything will be illegal but who knows what will be enforced. If there's a law, enforce it, if not, get it off the books.
Bob Boren June 30, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Kent, you are right on. These stupid nanny state idiots and animal "rights" nutcases are really getting on my last nerve. The extreme environmental nuts are just as bad (and often times are one in the same people). Between this, the smoking ban, the proposed confiscation of private propery on the AES site (with resulting expensive lawsuit), and the upcoming attempt in November to raise our taxes by Gov. MoonBeam, California is really going down a rat hole. And then there is Obama Care and the Supreme Court ruling. That caused me to donate money to Romney and join the Tea Party. I haven't been politically active since I circulated petitions for Prop 13 many years ago. Time to get involved again.
David June 30, 2012 at 09:58 PM
This ban is just common sense. Foie gras is a sickeningly cruel product, and its production is already illegal in the UK, Germany, Israel, Turkey, and many other countries. In 2009, the Better Business Bureau ruled that industry claims that foie gras is produced humanely are misleading to consumers. This included lies by the industry that foie gras is not produced by force feeding, and is produced by healthy animals. In fact, foie gras is the diseased liver of ducks and geese force feed through a metal pipe shoved down their throats, often causing severe injury to their esophagi and rupturing their stomachs.
Bob Boren June 30, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Baloney. I simply don't believe you. I've been lied to so many times by animal rights nuts that I no longer give them the benefit of the doubt. Sorry.
David June 30, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Here's a link to the Better Business Bureau report: http://www.asrcreviews.org/2009/01/nad-examines-advertising-for-dartagnans-artisan-foie-gras/ Note that D'Artagnan is the largest U.S. distributor of foie gras Here's a link to a video of foie gras production so you can see for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfG8pnS5MgM
Len Kissel July 01, 2012 at 12:24 AM
Bravo Kent the real message here is that bad Law comes from Bad elected Law Makers we need to clean house and elect sensible Law Makers Get rid of bad laws by getting rid of Bad Law Makers November is near Dont Forget Len Kissel Redondo Beach
Livia July 03, 2012 at 07:50 AM
Thats are frigin goverment and do gooders for you. They diffently have to much time on their hands or in their liver.
Maria Pruitt July 03, 2012 at 07:57 PM
The chef from Hermosa Beach is an ignoramous. To say that foie gras is more humane than how most chicken and cattle are raised is saying nothing because most of them have a hellish existance as well. Maybe in his next life he'd like to come back as one of them and see how that goes. Where are his ethics???
Maria Pruitt July 03, 2012 at 08:01 PM
You are so right David. Many people don't want to accept facts that are true as they may have to act responsibly and with conscience.
Maria Pruitt July 03, 2012 at 08:12 PM
We are not talking about killing animals re: this issue. We are talking about not inflicting pain of living beings. I happen to support that. Knowing all the atrocities that have and continue to occur in the world, I understand some others do not.
Bob Boren July 03, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Who cares? You idiots are also down on beef and chicken farming. Yawn. Bring me some veal.
Bob Boren July 03, 2012 at 11:47 PM
Maria, don't be a dope. If your ilk had their way, everybody would be forced onto an all plant diet. I can tell that you are one of those idiots due to your comment about chicken and cattle having a "hellish" existence. Oh, and by the way, it is not un-ethical to treat animals different than people. Ethics has nothing to do with this. People and animals are not equal. Never were, never will be. If you choose to believe that nonsense, then eat what you want, but don't try make that which you don't like illegal for the rest of us.
Kevin Cardinale August 26, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Most of these activists, if not 100%, are vegan vegetarians. If I were a judge in any of the cases surrounding this issue, the first issue they would have to overcome is to prove they are meat eaters themselves. If they could not pass that litmus test, the case would be dismissed with prejudice on the grounds that they have no standing in the case. Clearly a vegetarian has no standing to tell a normal human what he can and cannot eat. Furthermore, the very nature of eating animals, in most cases presented, is considered "cruel". It is then illogical to try and reason with someone that thinks eating animals is cruel and killing them is cruel. From my small research, geese are raised naturally and a week before slaughter are force fed. This is a FAR cry from cattle, sheep, hogs and chicken industrial food institutional farming practices. Yet, we eat those left and right. Foie Gras should have been the last thing on the radar. They are literally not mistreated. They are force fed corn, with fat to assist in digestion. Clearly there are other animals and humans that would wish they had these sorts of "problems." Get vegans out of politics. They are literally ruining the U.S. health, which I am not going to go into here.
Bob Boren August 26, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Totally agree with you, Kevin.


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