Foie gras is headlining more than just menus these days. New York is looking at legislation that will ban the contentious ingredient, citing its “egregiously cruel” production, as phrased by council member Carlina Rivera who introduced the bill.
A similar ban had been attempted in Chicago in 2006, only to be repealed two years later, with mayor Richard Daley calling it “the silliest law that they’ve ever passed” as reported by the Chicago Tribune. California too has gone back and forth on the matter, with a 2012 ban overturned in 2015 and reinstated in 2017. A challenge to the latest ban was rejected by the Supreme Court in January.
The proposed bill, now before city council, would prohibit the sale or offer for sale of foie gras made from force-fed birds while food service establishments would be prohibited from the provision of the ingredient in any manner. Violators could face a fine no greater than US$1,000 or no more than one year’s imprisonment, or both, for each violation.
According to the New York Times, the city is one of the largest markets in the country for the offending item and there are 1,000 restaurants that currently carry it on their menus.
These bans have traditionally been hard to enforce due to the need for inspection at supplier and restaurant levels, as well as creative loopholes exploited by restaurateurs (such as offering the dish for free, therefore not technically selling it) and vagaries in definitions and terminology.