Mazel tov! Israel is on track to introduce a law that would ban the sale of vile foie gras. It’s already illegal to produce the “fatty liver” pâté in Israel and many other places, including the UK, but until now, unscrupulous retailers have still been allowed to sell the inhumane product, profiting from the misery of ducks and geese. This groundbreaking new legislation will force them to change their ways, saving many animals from torment in the process.
The new bill has already passed its first hearing in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, by an overwhelming majority, and things are looking good for the ban to be finally approved in the next few months. It’s a heartening change of direction for the country, which used to be the world’s third-largest producer of foie gras. Now, as one of the law’s sponsors, rabbi MK Dov Lipman explains, “[t]he time has come to get this soul-corrupting food out of Israel”.
Foie gras production isn’t just cruel – it is downright sadistic. It involves intentionally inducing a painful, debilitating illness in healthy young animals by force-feeding them up to 2 kilograms of food every day through a metal tube that is shoved down their throats. This process is extremely stressful and can cause serious injuries. Undercover investigators on foie gras farms have seen birds bleeding from broken bills and neck wounds and collapsed on the floor, unable to carry their own bodyweight.
If the law goes ahead, Israel will be following in the footsteps of California, which enacted a groundbreaking ban on both the production and sale of foie gras last year. And it won’t be the first time that Israel has forged ahead of the crowd in terms of protecting animals: in January this year, it banned cosmetics testing on animals, a few months ahead of the EU.
Renowned British actor Steven Berkoff is among the many compassionate people who welcome the ban and would like to see a similar law be enacted here. In a piece in The Jerusalem Chronicle, he wrote:
Retailers Selfridges, House of Fraser, Jenners and Harvey Nichols have all stopped selling [foie gras], and hotels and restaurants across the UK, not needing a sales ban in order to have nothing to do with it, continue to shun this vile product. Ironically, despite a concerted effort led by PETA and my old on-screen adversary Sir Roger Moore, including being presented with video footage of cruelty to animals at the farms which supply the store, Fortnum & Mason – the oversized souvenir shop on Piccadilly, which prides itself on its “English” heritage – clings to sales of foie gras.
Such cruelty also violates God’s law, according to Rabbi David Rosen, the former chief rabbi of Ireland, who has said that foie gras production “is in complete contravention of the Torah’s prohibition of causing tsa’ar ba’alei chayim (cruelty or pain to animals)”.
In addition to Israel and the UK, at least a dozen other countries have banned foie gras production, including Australia, Germany and Switzerland. But so far, none of them has taken the next logical step and banned its sale. Like Rabbi Lipman, I’m proud that Israel is the first to address this hypocrisy head on and put its money where its mouth is, so to speak. I’d be even more delighted if the UK would do the same.
We wholeheartedly agree with Steven – it’s high time that the UK also banned the sale of foie gras. But until that day comes, the onus is on responsible retailers to refuse to stock the vile product. Please help by speaking out whenever you see a business selling or serving foie gras. You can send a message to Fortnum & Mason about its unethical support for foie gras here: StopFortnumAndMasonFoieGrasCruelty.com.