Row over foie gras moves to Jesmond

Image by B. Carlson

Local restaurants have come under pressure to remove foie gras from their menus after protestors and campaign groups labelled the selling of the foodstuff as ‘vile’.

Protests over foie gras – liver pâté, specially fattened by force-feeding a duck or goose – began at Horton Grange Country House and Restaurant, near Ponteland, via Twitter.

Alex Lockwood, a member of the Northern Animal Rights Facebook Group, messaged the restaurant: “hello @HortonGrange any chance you can remove the disgusting fois gras (sic) from your menu? illegal to treat geese that way in the UK”.

Horton Grange swiftly replied to Mr. Lockwood and other protestors by insisting that they were “committed to using only sustainable & welfare friendly ingreds & will no longer be using Foie Gras in ANY of its dishes”.

Closer to home, Jesmond Dene House came under scrutiny after Mr. Lockwood contacted Nicky Sherman, the restaurant’s marketing manager, via Twitter: “hi @Nicky_Sherman , @HortonGrange just took fois  gras (sic) off the menu, will Jesmond Dene House? Otherwise I’ll send friends to Horton Grange!”.

Alex Lockwood told JesmondLocal the hotel “took [foie gras] off their menu pretty quick” after his message. However, we could not confirm this with Jesmond Dene House, whose spokesperson declined to comment.

Louis’ Restaurant on Osborne Road has also removed the delicacy from its menu in recent times. A spokesperson said that they stopped selling it over a year ago. However, it “wasn’t anything too ethical”, but was “about the price as well – a bit of both really”.

None of the other local restaurants JesmondLocal spoke to currently sells the upmarket product, although it is unclear whether this is down to ethical considerations or cost.

liver pâté, specially fattened by force-feeding the duck or goose

5 thoughts on “Row over foie gras moves to Jesmond”

  1. KEITH TEMPLE says:

    Restaurant owners! Grow a spine and tell these food fascists where to go. It’s not illegal to eat foie gras.

  2. Kirk Thompson says:

    Is it fascist to be somewhat upset about:

    1. lifelong daily force feeding that involves insertion of a 5-10mm steel cannula all the way down the oesophagus into the stomach

    2. overfeeding to produce multisystemic pathologies associated with fatty liver disease, gross obesity and degenerative joint disease

    3. crippling and pain associated with joint problems

    ?

    As all of the above are routine in the production of foie gras.

    Kirk Thompson, former Veterinary Adviser in Animal Welfare to the Secretary of State, Defra

  3. KEITH TEMPLE says:

    I’m very aware of the techniques involved in the production of foie gras. I wouldn’t eat it myself. I don’t eat any meat. I believe any animal slaughter for food consumption is morally wrong – whether it’s under the watchful eye of Defra or not! But that’s my personal opinion and I wouldn’t dream of foisting it upon anyone else. I certainly wouldn’t ring up a restaurant and ask them to take their steak/lamb/fish dishes off the menu. That’s what I mean by fascist. A minority thinking they have the moral high ground, telling others what to do. Try to educate, inform yes, but cajole and bully, no. It’s a slippery slope when you go down that path

  4. David says:

    Kirk, the gavage process doesn’t happen until two weeks before slaughter. Those pathologies and joint problems are only problematic for long-term health. For obvious reasons, that shouldn’t be an issue.

    As for lifelong daily force-feedings, that’s a lie or blatant misinformation. Again, the feeding happen in its last two weeks. The pipe extending down to the esophogus is a non-issue considering the choking reflex doesn’t exist in ducks as in humans. A former veterinary advisor should know the difference, and the dangers with anthropomorphic comparisons.

  5. Kirk Thompson says:

    The most authoritative report on this issue remains the responsible EU committee’s 1998 assessment available at:

    http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/welfare/international/out17_en.pdf

    The composition of this committee (SCAHAW) is leading welfare scientists, practitioners, veterinarians and industry representatives from across the EU. The conclusion of this report is stated clearly on p65:

    “The Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare concludes that force
    feeding, as currently practised, is detrimental to the welfare of the birds.”

    1. Force feeding: is aversive from ethological studies examined; produces oesophageal ulcerations from repeated [gavaging] trauma; is continued in foie gras production to a point just before substantial mortality [within the population] results. 2 weeks is the minimum force feeding period utilised: it can be (and is) undertaken for significantly longer by some producers. The lack of choking reflex is irrelevant to the welfare issues.

    2. The liver increases to 6-10 times its normal size. Leg displacement and panting have been observed as a result. The significance of physical and developing pathological lesions is not diminished purely because slaughter is imminent. Mobility problems are unlikely to be noticed as significant in single caged birds that have insufficient space to walk.

    3. The mortality rate in the 2 weeks prior to slaughter is 10-20 times the rate in comparable age/species matched non force fed animals.

    4. The incidence of long bone and sternal fractures detected at the slaughterhouse is higher in force fed birds than non force fed birds.

    Its continued practise and tolerance towards it stems from its cultural significance, particularly in France. As societal attitudes change – as they have done to bullfighting in Spain (the Catalonian ban) – it is likely the practice will die out.

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