After a period of phasing out the force-feeding of ducks and geese to produce foie gras, this horrific practice has finally ended in Israel. The Israeli Supreme Court ruled almost two years ago that force-feeding is a violation of the Animal Welfare Act, and would not be permitted in Israel after April 1, 2005. The country was the fourth largest producer of foie gras at the time of the ban.
To produce foie gras, which literally means "fat liver" in French, male ducks and geese are typically force-fed large amounts of corn through the long metal tubes inserted into their throats each day. This causes their livers to become enlarged up to 10 times their normal size because of an illness known as hepatic steatosis. Birds are breathless and experience diarrhea after the feeding, and those who survive this cruelty can suffer from intense pain due to lesions in their throats. Often, the birds' engorged livers make walking impossible by the time they are slaughtered.
This inhumane food marketed as a gourmet treat is already prohibited in many countries, and Israel has set a wonderful example for others still involved in its production, including the United States. Recently in New York, Hudson Valley, the state's only foie gras producer, succeeded in having legislation introduced and packaged as a humane measure. The bill would exempt Hudson Valley from existing anti-cruelty laws, and specifically allow it to remain in business for at least another 11 years. We hope the truth behind this pro-foie gras legislation will be recognized, ensuring its defeat.