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Foie gras made without ‘gavage’ now on sale in France

The first foie gras created without the controversial “gavage” forced feeding technique is to go on sale in the south of France just in time for Christmas, costing almost €1,000 per kilo.

Toulouse-based company Aviwell (Haute-Garonne, Occitanie) has signed its first contract to sell its “naturally fatty”, organic foie gras, which has been created after two years of scientific trials and tasting tests.

Aviwell calls its method “the first natural, ethical and innovative solution for the development of a natural fatty liver in goose”.

The company has created 300 livers - 20kg in total - which will be sold by fine foods shop Le Comptoir de l’Hers, in the town of Calmont, just under 50km southeast of Toulouse.

The product is made without the “gavage” feeding technique, which involves force-feeding birds with extra feed to speed up the fatty liver process.

This method is becoming ever-more controversial, with the 6th annual “world anti-foie gras day” having been held on November 25 this year, and more and more consumers choosing to eschew normal foie gras in protest at what they see as animal cruelty.

Foie gras made without the infamous technique requires added scientific intervention to ensure that the fatty liver process still happens, while still respecting the animal’s welfare and health. This includes injecting geese with a kind of bacteria, from infancy; which recreates the “fatty liver” process without having to use gavage.

This extra, scientific intervention also helps to explain the higher costs of the product, which Aviwell says “offers all the taste and textural qualities [of] traditional foie gras”.

Le Comptoir de l'Hers delicatessen in Calmont, south of Toulouse (Photo: Facebook / @lecomptoirdelers )

Rémy Burcelin, co-founder of the Aviwell research and development centre, said: “Demand [for non-gavage foie gras] is very strong. In blind taste tests, tastings worked very well last year, and we are still receiving messages every day, even from abroad, from people who want to buy our product.

“The first products are being sold...we have finally figured it out.”

Dominique Du Trieu, delicatessen manager of Le Comptoir de l’Hers, told local newspaper La Dépêche du Midi: “I was looking for a high-quality product, and I found the Aviwell company in Toulouse. The product that they produce is a ‘naturally fatty’ foie gras, which is exactly what I was hoping for.”

The shop sells 125g of the product for €124.

Mr Du Trieu said: “The product admittedly has a cost that is suitable for a clientele that either have the means, or people who really want to be ethical, and eat good, organic products that are healthy, without animal mistreatment.”

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