Foie gras lovers in California can again have the controversial delicacy produced out of the fattened liver of force-fed geese and ducks after its two-year ban was overturned by a federal judge.
In 2004, then California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that prohibits the sale of foie gras in the state. The law took effect eight years later in 2012 as producers try to find an alternative method to force-feeding. Identifying a substitute for the existing method of fattening birds though had been elusive.
The ban was supported by animal rights advocates who argue that forcing food into the throat of birds using a tube to fatten their liver is inhumane.
Over the past two years while the ban had been in force, some restaurants managed to find a get around to continue serving the controversial dish to their customers: by offering it as a gift, which is essentially not selling it to their patrons.
Foie gras, however, can now be freely served and charged for, as it is no longer considered contraband with a new ruling striking down the ban.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson ruled that the law prohibiting the sale of foie gras in California is unconstitutional because it clashes with the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), a federal law that regulates the sale and distribution of poultry products including foie gras.
The judge ruled that California's law does not outrank the federal law, which does not require foie gras to be produced from the livers of ducks and geese that were not force-fed.
After the announcement was made, a number of Californian chefs celebrated. Some did not spare time offering the delicacy to their patrons right away. Chef Josiah Citrin of Santa Monica's Melisse emailed clients within hours of the ruling informing them that he has again included foie gras on his menu.
The decision nonetheless disappointed animal rights groups. In a statement released on Thursday, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said that it will fight back by protesting outside of restaurants that serve Foie gras including One Market Restaurant in San Francisco.
"Foie gras is French for fat liver, and fathead is the American word for the shameless chefs who actually need a law to make them stop serving the bloated, near-bursting organ of a cruelly force-fed bird," the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in a statement.