Foie gras produced by force-feeding is immensely cruel and controversial. Production of this so-called ‘delicacy’ causes unimaginable suffering to millions of birds each year.
Animal Equality’s investigations show the horrific practices involved in ‘gavage’ - the force-feeding process where sensitive ducks and geese are brutally fattened up using a feeding tube that is forced down their throats.
These animals endure severe physical and psychological pain throughout their short lives.
The ruthless force-feeding process causes the birds’ livers to swell to ten times their natural size. The animal’s diseased liver is then sold and marketed as foie gras.
The reality of foie gras production
Feeding tubes are brutally forced down the throats of birds in order to fatten them up
They are typically kept in tiny, unsanitary, cage-like facilities, unable to express even their most basic desires, such as spreading their wings
Their livers swell to 10 times the natural size, causing extraordinary pain
Forbid foie gras imports
The process of gavage (also known as force-feeding) is considered incompatible with the provisions of The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000, which later became The Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations (2007), which is mirrored across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
Over 250,000 Brits have supported our campaign calling for an end to foie gras imports. Various MP's are also supporting this landmark legislative ask, including Sir Mike Penning MP who put forward PMQs and created an Early Day Motion to support Animal Equality in October and November 2020.
It is currently enshrined in law that: ‘Animals shall be fed a wholesome diet which is appropriate to their age and species and which is fed to them in sufficient quantity to maintain them in good health, to satisfy their nutritional needs and to promote a positive state of well-being.’
And that: ‘No animals shall be provided with food or liquid in a manner, nor shall such food or liquid contain any substance, which may cause them unnecessary suffering or injury.’
We claim to be a nation of animal lovers, so why are we allowing such an abhorrent product to appear in our shops?
While we were disappointed that the ban on foie gras made by force-feeding was not included in the Queen's Speech in 2022, we will not give up. The public has made it clear that it demands a ban on this cruel product, and we will continue fighting for this to become a reality.
Progress so far
Following the launch of our campaign in 2017, we have made significant progress towards achieving our goal of securing a ban on the importation of foie gras made by force-feeding:
There is strong political appetite for a ban. Animal Equality has secured cross-party backing, with leading political figures in Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties announcing support for our demand.
With the help of Henry Smith MP, we hosted a reception in the House of Commons and prompted an adjournment debate in Parliament on the proposed ban.
In April 2020, following lobbying from Animal Equality and sympathetic MPs, Lord Goldsmith confirmed in a letter that “The production of foie gras from ducks or geese using force feeding (known as gavage) raises serious animal welfare concerns” and is “incompatible with our domestic legislation”.
Milestone: Defra sources confirmed publicly in March 2021 that they are determined to implement a ban 'in the next few months'. We submitted an open letter response to this calling for a concrete roadmap of next steps to be shared, with support from cross-party MPs for each country in the UK. Read the full open letter here.
In August 2021, having still not received a response from Defra, we submitted a follow-up open letter, again signed by cross-party MPs, demanding to see progress on this issue. We invited cabinet ministers and government officials to a roundtable discussion with Animal Equality and the signatories of the open letter.
Known for our undercover investigations, Animal Equality’s brave investigators have captured footage from a number of foie gras farms in Spain and France over the years. These harrowing images show ducks and geese suffering severely in barren, wire cages, with many terrified birds struggling whilst they are ruthlessly force-fed with metal tubes. The British public continues to show outrage and disgust when viewing these horrors.
In September 2021, we were joined by actor and animal advocate Peter Egan, Michelin-starred French chef Alexis Gauthier and Animal Equality volunteers to hand in over 225,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street.
In February 2022, Peter Egan sent a letter to Lord Zac Goldsmith, Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment, and George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The letter was signed and supported by celebrities Ricky Gervais, Dr Amir Khan and Dame Joanna Lumley and urged the UK Government to implement a ban on foie gras made by force-feeding as soon as possible.
Our campaign, running since 2017, has now gathered over 250,000 signatures of support, making it clear that the public are eager to see the end of foie gras in the UK.
Outreach and peaceful protests
Thanks to the help of our dedicated volunteers and activists, our peaceful campaign actions have successfully encouraged a number of restaurants to remove foie gras from their menus, including Tate Modern, Royal Festival Hall’s Skylon restaurant, Wallace Collection’s brasserie, Bluebird Chelsea and Crowne Plaza hotels.
There is strength of feeling on this serious issue. With support from an army of celebrities and animal welfare experts, our crucial message has been spread far and wide.
Alan Carr is the latest in a long list of animal-lovers and celebs encouraging the Government to enact a ban as soon as possible. Other stars in support include Ricky Gervais, Dev Patel, Joanna Lumley, Peter Egan and Thandiwe Newton, alongside respected animal specialist, Emma Milne.
The Case for a UK Ban on Foie Gras made by Force-Feeding
A year on from the release of Defra’s Action Plan for Animal Welfare, the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill has now been written into UK legislation, a huge landmark victory for animals. However, further progress to improve animal protection has since stalled. A key piece of this puzzle that is currently at risk is the ban on foie gras made by force-feeding. The production of foie gras was outlawed in the UK decades ago, yet we still profit from and support the extreme animal cruelty involved by importing this product from other countries. This hypocrisy must end.
Animal Equality has been working for months on an important document to build a case for a UK ban on foie gras made by force-feeding.
Thanks to the collaboration of our specialists in law, campaigns and communications, we have published a report which investigates the public and political support for a ban on foie gras made by force-feeding.
The report also lays out the evidence gathered from scientific studies and Animal Equality’s investigations showing the suffering that the foie gras industry causes to millions of ducks and geese every year. It also looks back to historic progress in animal protection legislation to determine similar bans that pave the way for this one.
Through examining the evidence, while considering opinions from scientific experts, politicians and the public, one message is clear: the UK does not choose animal cruelty.
The question follows: will the Government listen to the public, or betray UK citizens as well as millions of animals?