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California Is Now Able to Serve This Controversial Food

But wait, there's a catch.
foie gras

In January 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the state of California to prohibit serving foie gras in restaurants. However, as of yesterday, Californians will once again be allowed to indulge in the rich appetizer under one condition: It has to be bought from an out-of-state seller and then transported into the state by way of a third party delivery service.

Foie gras, which means fatty liver in French, has a history of being banned in the state, with the first prohibition starting in 2004. What makes the dish controversial is the way it's produced. Ducks and geese are force-fed with grains via a tube causing their livers to swell, which is why many believe the French delicacy is unethical to eat. In some cases, the birds become so uncomfortable that they begin to tear out their feathers or even lash out at their companions in the surrounding cages. Now, can you see why the production of this dish has been banned in some parts of the U.S. at some point in the last 20 years?

On July 14, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled that the sale of foie gras purchased from another state and brought into California through a delivery service does not, in fact, violate the law that was enacted just last year.

"There is no principled way to distinguish between foie gras purchased out of state and transported into California by the purchaser and that which is delivered by a third party," Wilson wrote.

Whether foie gras should be legal to produce is a touchy subject and one that animal rights activists in major cities have spoken out against for years. In Chicago, the City Council prohibited the production and sale of the luxury dish back in 2006, only for it to be repealed in 2008. Starting in 2022, New York City will prohibit restaurants and markers from selling the dish.

Remember, foie gras was first banned in California in 2004, but it wasn't until 2015 when the same judge deemed the state law clashed with the Poultry Products Inspection Act enacted by the federal government. At that time, the dish could be served but not produced in-state, which is similar (if not nearly identical) to the decision he just ruled yesterday.

So Californians, the rich delicacy will likely be back on restaurant menus in the upcoming weeks, but do you think the right decision was made?

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more
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