Target: Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Goal: Treat foie gras as you would other diseased animal products and ban it from the food supply.
Foie gras is a luxury food item produced by the disturbingly cruel act of force-feeding ducks and geese until their livers become fatty and swollen. Despite this gruesome description of the way foie gras is produced, which is actually written in French law, the USDA refuses to treat the “delicacy” as what it is—diseased. Traditionally, foie gras is produced by force-feeding ducks and geese two to three times a day. To do this, producers typically use a foot-long unlubricated tube to shove up to three pounds of grain down the throat of each bird per day. This feeding regime is the equivalent of forcing a human to consume 45 pounds of food a day. In response to the enormous excess of food and fat, the birds’ livers become over-fattened and swell up to 10 times their normal size.
Investigations of U.S. and European foie gras production has exposed shocking cruelty including birds so sick they cannot move and birds dying from severe tracheal damage or asphyxiation due to force-feeding. Many restaurants, grocers, and distributors have refused to stock foie gras, but it is still legal in most states. Foie gras not only represents a level of cruelty that is purely barbaric, its availability presents a serious flaw in food safety. The animals involved in the production of foie gras exist in a severely diseased state and should not be considered fit for human consumption.
Veterinarily speaking, animals with severely fattened livers are classified as suffering from hepatic lipidosis, a disease of the liver characterized by fattening and enlarging. According to the USDA’s own Food Safety and Inspection Service, other animals with such a condition would not be permitted to enter the food supply. Despite this, foie gras continues to receive a free pass. In September 2011, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) petitioned the USDA to finally treat foie gras like other “adulterated” animal products and label it as diseased. More than four years have passed and the USDA has ignored the petition completely, continuing to allow diseased animal products to be sold and the ruthless cruelty of foie gras to continue. Please urge the USDA to label foie gras as diseased and subsequently remove it from the food supply.
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
I am very concerned by the USDA’s refusal to acknowledge the cruelty and public health risk of the “delicacy” known as foie gras. As I’m sure you know, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) petitioned the USDA several years ago to label foie gras for what it is—a diseased animal product. You have left their petition unanswered and continue to allow the distribution and sale of foie gras in the United States. Foie gras is produced by the unspeakably cruel act of force-feeding ducks and geese until their livers become overly fatty and swollen. Many birds’ livers swell to 10 times their normal size. In all other cases, an animal in this state would be considered to be suffering from hepatic lipidosis, a disease characterized by a fattened and enlarged liver. Animals in a diseased state such as this are banned from entering the food supply under food safety regulations. Despite this, the USDA refuses to ban or even label foie gras as diseased.
It is wrong and deceitful to allow foie gras to be sold in the U.S. when it so clearly violates is diseased. I urge you to please respond to the ALDF’s request and reevaluate your stance of foie gras. Diseased animals products, especially those produced via such blatantly cruel and unhealthy means, must not be allowed in our food supply. Please treat foie gras as you would treat other “adulterated” animal products; label it as diseased and ban it.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Global Action in the Interest of Animals