Foie Gras: Delicacy of Despair (Gourmet Cruelty)
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About Foie Gras

This long metal feeder is forced down the birds’ throats three times a day.

Foie Gras—French for fatty liver—is the grossly enlarged liver of a duck or goose. Medically known as hepatic lipidosis, foie gras is a disease marketed as a delicacy. Birds raised for this gourmet cruelty are force-fed enormous quantities of food through a long metal pipe three times a day. This process of deliberate and painful overfeeding continues for up to a month, by which time the birds’ livers have swelled up to twelve times their healthy size.

The process of forced feeding is so traumatic, and the confinement and conditions on foie gras farms so debilitating, that the pre-slaughter mortality rate for foie gras production is up to 20 times the average rate on other duck factory farms.

During the course of our investigation, GourmetCruelty.com discovered corpses of ducks who had literally burst open through overfeeding. Investigators also found many birds who had choked to death on their own vomit. Necropsies performed by veterinarians on dead ducks taken from Hudson Valley Foie Gras determined that some of the birds had died of aspiration pneumonia—a painful and often fatal condition caused when, during the process of forced-feeding, food is pushed into the lungs of the birds.

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The Foie Gras Producers

Two companies produce all of the domestically raised foie gras in the United States. New York State’s Hudson Valley Foie Gras and California’s Sonoma Foie Gras. Combined, they are responsible for the torture and death of half a million ducks every year.

Hudson Valley Foie Gras

Hudson Valley Foie Gras is the largest foie gras producer in the U.S. and one of the largest factory farming corporations in New York State.

Hudson Valley Foie Gras is the successor to Commonwealth Enterprises, which PETA investigated in 1991. At any given time, Hudson Valley Foie Gras is raising, force-feeding, and slaughtering approximately 40,000 ducks.

At Hudson Valley, row after row of ducks live trapped in isolation cages so small they can barely move. Examining these rows, investigators found many sick and injured birds as well as birds languishing next to the corpses of birds who could not survive the harsh conditions on the factory farm.

Those birds who do survive the overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, confinement, and repeated trauma of forced-feeding, are slaughtered at barely four months.

Sonoma Foie Gras

Sonoma Foie Gras buys their ducklings from Grimaud Farms, one of the country’s largest duck factory farms.

Sonoma Foie Gras is responsible for the production of 20% of the United States’ foie gras, and the confinement, forced-feeding, and slaughter of over 100,000 ducks a year. At a very young age, the ducks are put into crowded pens in filthy sheds. The floor is covered with feces and vomit. The farm is so unsanitary that rats run freely. Investigators witnessed and documented a rat eating two ducks alive.

After this life of torture and pain, the birds who have survived are thrown into crates and shipped back to Grimaud for slaughter, processing, and marketing.

Welfare Aspects of the Production of Foie Gras in Ducks and Geese, European Union’s Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare, December 16, 1998.

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