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Foie gras illegal say protesters

Animal rights group say 85% of producers defy EU law that forbids keeping ducks in individual cages

15 December 2011

AN ANIMAL rights group has launched a new Stop Gavage campaign as it says that 85% of the foie gras sold in France is illegal.

The group L214 points to EU regulations forbidding the use of individual cages to hold the ducks during the force-feeding gavage and say this is widely ignored since France awarded itself an extension until December 2015 for its introduction.

L214 says that 30% of producers for Label Rouge foie gras - a legally defined standard for free-range poultry - use individual cages and 96% of non-red label foie gras is produced this way.

Since the beginning of this year an EU directive forbids foie gras producers from using individual cages and says open collective cages should be used.

Ducks and geese, the directive says, should be able to "turn round without difficulty", "flap their wings" and "mix freely with other birds" and L214 says that ducks in individual cages cannot do any of these. Geese make up just 5% of the foie gras market in France and are raised in open fields.

The group has also fought a long campaign against the gavage, saying the force-feeding of the birds with corn is like "torture".

A press release from L214 says the gavage disrupts the liver and leaves the bird unable to regulate its body temperature and leading to fatty degeneration of the organ. The liver grows to 10 times its size, leading to difficulty in breathing and in moving around.

It says there is an organic alternative - which they call faux gras - and L214 will hold a tasting and protest meeting outside the Champs-Elysées branch of Monoprix on Saturday.

Meanwhile, foie gras producers in the south-west say that two-thirds of the foie gras sold in France actually comes from Hungary and they are demanding the introduction of an IGP indication géographique protégée label to show where products are produced.

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