Foie Gras Is Back on the Menu in California

By Mike Pomranz |

© Sudres / photocuisine / Corbis

Foie gras fans, rejoice! Ducks, not so much!

Yesterday, US District Judge Stephen V. Wilson permanently blocked California’s attorney general from enforcing part of the state’s ban on the controversial delicacy, which has been in effect since 2012. It was determined that federal law supersedes state law when it comes to regulating foie gras and other poultry products.

The decision once again legalized the sale of foie gras in California. Some restaurants had foie gras back on the menu that same day.

The ruling did not, however, effect the production of foie gras within the state. The process of force-feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging its liver beyond the normal size is still illegal. Instead, this legal challenge was forged primarily by out-of-state producers who contended that it was unconstitutional for the state to pass a law regulating poultry products that were already regulated federally by the Poultry Products Inspection Act.  The judge agreed, and foie gras sales, at least, were restored.

The battle is certainly not over, though. The attorney general has until Feb. 6 to appeal the decision. Back in October, the Supreme Court refused to hear arguments in the case, which kept the sales ban intact until the most recent action.

For those following other California food laws that are attempting to reduce animal cruelty, according to the Los Angeles Times, experts believe this current ruling will have no effect on California’s new egg law that requires hens to have more room in their pens, “because eggs aren't covered by the Poultry Products Inspection Act.” When it comes to figuring out what is legal and what isn’t, turns out there’s a lot of splitting feathers.

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