Media Coverage: The Wall Street Journal

New York City Council Vote Could Pluck Foie Gras From Menus

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BY: MELANIE GRAYCE WEST

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A committee of the New York City Council unanimously approved a bill banning the sale of foie gras in the city, a measure that pits farmers against animal-rights activists and ultimately affects a small number of the city’s high-end restaurants and food purveyors.

The measure was part of animal-welfare legislation approved by the committee, which included a bill prohibiting the trafficking of wild birds, including pigeons, and a measure prohibiting carriage horses from working when the temperature is higher than 90 degrees.

The full council is expected to vote on the foie gras legislation Wednesday.

City Councilman Mark Levine, a Manhattan Democrat, acknowledged that the passage of the animal-welfare legislation would affect businesses. “But as society evolves, we have a right to expect that business practices evolve as well,” he said.

City Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel, a Democrat representing Brooklyn, approved the measures, but said it was a difficult vote because the legislation might affect the livelihood of many people and businesses.

“It’s quite difficult in one sense to protect animals and, in another sense, cause harm for just everyday people who live in New York,” she said.

Duck farms in and around the Hudson Valley are among the few U.S. producers of foie gras, which is fattened duck or goose liver. The luxury product is made by force-feeding the birds multiple times daily to expand their livers several times their normal size before slaughter.

Farmers say the birds are raised on small farms in a stress-free and comfortable environment and that the feeding process doesn’t cause discomfort. Animal-rights activists say the force-feeding practice is inhumane.

Sergio Saravia, secretary of the Catskill Foie Gras Collective, an advocacy group representing farms, said that hundreds of jobs and millions in revenue will be lost as a result of the City Council legislation. New Yorkers, he said, will lose the right to choose what they can eat.

The legislation, said Mr. Saravia, “is an unfair assault on local farmers based on misinformation from animal-rights activists.”

Write to Melanie Grayce West at melanie.west@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications
The Catskill Foie Gras Collective opposes a New York City Council proposal to ban the sale of foie gras. An earlier version of this article incorrectly called the group the Hudson Valley Foie Gras Collective. (Oct. 29, 2019)