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New restaurant ducks Foie Gras controversy after San Diego group's lawsuit

A state law went into effect in 2012 banning the sale of foie gras, but it was challenged in Los Angeles federal court by an association of foie gras producers.
Credit: AP
CORRECTS TO HUDSON VALLEY FOIE GRAS INSTEAD OF HIDDEN VALLEY FOIE GRAS This July 18, 2019 photo, shows samples of foie gras delicacy from ducks farmed at Hudson Valley Foie Gras duck farm in Ferndale, N.Y. A New York City proposal to ban the sale of foie gras, the fattened liver of a duck or goose, has the backing of animal welfare advocates, but could mean trouble for farms outside the city that are the premier U.S. producers of the French delicacy. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

SAN DIEGO — Gigi's, a new Hollywood restaurant launched by New York City restaurateur Alex Wilmot and Hollywood actress Samantha Ressler, immediately responded to a lawsuit filed Monday by the San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League and agreed to stop selling foie gras, a delicacy made by force-feeding ducks, the plaintiffs announced.

Gigi's is the fifth restaurant in California that the League says it has caused to comply with the ban by filing lawsuits this year. The others were Kettner Exchange in San Diego, French Laundry in Napa, Petrossian in Los Angeles and Monsieur Marcel in Orange County.

"There is nothing natural about inserting a half-inch diameter, one foot long metal pipe down a duck's esophagus and pumping up to a pound of corn mash in, two to three times per day, for up to 30 days, until the ducks are on the verge of death from organ rupture and have a distended liver that is over 12 times normal size," the lawsuit stated. "APRL has repeatedly documented and exposed exactly this horror..."

Hudson Valley Foie Gras is the only producer of foie gras in the United States and operates in a sparsely populated county in upstate New York, according to the Rescue League.

In 2015, HVFG convinced the local district attorney to prosecute and jail an APRL volunteer who documented and exposed alleged cruelty at the farm. New York City last year banned Hudson Valley foie gras products, as California has done.

A state law went into effect in 2012 banning the sale of foie gras, but it was challenged in Los Angeles federal court by an association of foie gras producers in New York and Canada, along with a Hermosa Beach restaurant operator, who argued that the measure was vaguely written and interfered with state commerce.

A 2017 ruling by the Pasadena-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the statute.

Under the law, a restaurant caught serving the gourmet item in California could be fined up to $1,000.

A July ruling by U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson said that while residents can arrange for foie gras to be purchased outside the state and delivered to them in California, the sale or resale of foie gras within California is still prohibited.

Animal lovers throughout the state have crusaded against the gourmet pate, which is usually produced through a process in which ducks or geese are force-fed corn through tubes inserted in their throats, a practice seen as inhumane.