Factory Farming >
Foie Gras - Index|
Imagine you've just eaten an enormous lunch. So enormous
that you can hardly move. In fact, you are finding it difficult to breathe. You
feel bloated, swollen and in agony. "Why did I do it?", you ask yourself. "Never
Now imagine you didn't have the choice. What if, like the geese used
to produce foie gras, you were forced to repeat the process time and time again?
What if, for the next 16 days, at regular - all to short - intervals, somebody
pushed a rigid metal tube down your throat and filled your stomach with food.
The pain, discomfort and utter misery you would feel can only be imagined.
Who could possibly justify this kind of suffering merely to produce an
expensive hors d'oeuvre?
It's time we finished off this barbaric practice once and for all...
Foie gras is the grossly swollen liver of the ducks and geese fattened by
force feeding once they are fully grown. This overfeeding distorts the body,
causing the liver to swell to more than seven times its normal size. The bigger
the liver, the more foie gras - and profit!
In France alone, where the
practice is known as gavage, many hundreds of thousands of birds are forcibly
fed - 'crammed' - each year. To meet demand, France also imports fattened livers
from Israel and mid-European countries, such as Hungary, where the cramming
process is similar to their own methods. France's total exports of foie gras
amount to many hundreds of tons annually.
To cram a goose means to stuff 400-500g (approx 1lb) of salted, cooked maize
(often lubricated with goose fat into its crop at least three times a day, for a
minimum of 16 days. By the 12th day, the goose is being crammed every three
hours - that's eight times in one day - even throughout the night. On the 17th
day, the geese are slaughtered. Their bodies are so distended by this time that
they can hardly move and can breathe only with difficulty.
shuffling on inadequate legs in cramped spaces" is the independent verdict of
one eye-witness, a well know writer. European foie gras farms are now using
electric cramming machines - which push the feed through the funnel and down the
bird's throat by means of a mechanical, rotating screw. This allows far more
birds to be crammed.
EarthKind's latest initiative
EarthKind recently sent an investigation to
Hungary, Belgium and France and he confirmed that the horrific practices exposed
by EarthKind are as bad as ever. He said "the geese are obviously terrified by
the whir of the machinery, associating the sounds with more pain, and have to be
dragged struggling from the cage - normally by a wing".
Some French farmers
have tried to defend force-feeding for foie gras by saying that it merely takes
advantage of the bird's natural instinct to over-eat in preparation for winter
migration. They say that the geese enjoy it and even queue up to be fed. This,
as our investigator witnesses - in France, Belgium and Hungary - could not be
further from the truth. "Before cramming, the birds were so frightened that they
huddled together as far away from the farmer as they could get - pushing
themselves against the bars of the cage in an attempt to escape."
Methods of control vary, but can be anything from sitting on the bird to immobilizing
it with a metal apron and keeping a tight grip on the throat. The
welfare of the bird is the last thing on the farmer's mind.
"Some geese and ducks were obviously very ill from awful throat infections
caused by repeatedly pushing the metal tube into the throat - and yet they were
still being crammed. Many die in their cages."
Our investigator was often treated with great hostility and suspicion whilst
filming. Foie gras producers know that once we in Britain see the facts for
ourselves, a large part of their export market will be lost.
farmer, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals said: "It is a
brutal process, and the animals have to be carefully watched during and after
feeding, since mechanical force-feeding is liable to cause accidents."
FACT: Foie gras literally means 'fat liver'. People who eat foie gras are
swallowing 85 per cent fat - which goes directly to their own liver, raising cholesterol, and contributing to many other health problems.
cramming, the liver becomes a totally abnormal organ - grossly oversized in
proportion to the bird's body. Our investigator describes it graphically: "It's
like forcing an animal to smoke enormous quantities of cigarettes and then
selling its cancerous, deformed lungs as a delicacy."
FACT: A large part of the world's human population suffers from malnutrition
- yet we allow valuable grain stocks to be used to produce this expensive,
'gourmet food' to be sold in up-market shops and restaurants.
BEWARE: Do not confuse foie gras products with ordinary liver pates or meat
pastes. Look carefully at the label for the words foie gras. All foie gras
products are expensive. Foie gras is sold either as pure foie gras (100 per cent
goose or duck liver obtained by forcible cramming) or in foie gras products, eg
pate de foie gras, terrine de foie gras etc which contain other ingredients as
EarthKind's campaign against this cruelty, which began nearly 30 years ago,
has resulted in widespread publicity in Britain and abroad. In 1980 our campaign
reached the European Parliament and 410 MEPs received a copy of our special
report. The tremendous increase in European support that followed was
demonstrated by the near victory achieved in 1983, when an attempt to achieve an
EC ban on forcible cramming was lost by only seven votes!
Ten years on, we
feel public opinion against this cruelty is even stronger, and ready to support
a fight to the finish. If enough voices are raised, a ban on imports into the
UK, followed by a ban on cramming in Europe, could be within reach.
This cruelty must stop!
For 30 years EarthKind has led a pioneering
campaign against forcible goose-cramming for foie gras.
Ten years ago our
attempt to achieve an EC ban failed by just seven votes.
Now we have the chance to finish the job.
It CAN be done - with your support.
Please make the facts as widely known as possible. Distribute copies of this
leaflet where they will do most good. We will supply as many leaflets as you
need on request.
Send a copy of the leaflet to your local press, radio and
TV and ask them to publicize the facts.
Give a copy to the managers of
hotels and restaurants in your area with foie gras on the menu.
important: Ask your MP to press for an import ban. Ask your MEP (name and
address from your local library) to press for an EC ban on forcible cramming for
Send for the EarthKind Foie Gras Information Pack for more
detailed and helpful suggestions for action against cramming.
Send us a
donation to combat this brutal cruelty.
Become a member of EarthKind.
Copyright free where EarthKind is credited.
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