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Government & Politics

The Legal Battle Over Foie Gras Continues

Andrew Nixon
Capital Public Radio
The California State Capitol Building in Sacramento (file photo)

Legal wrangling isn't scaring connoisseurs and chefs from enjoying foie gras. It's still legal to serve the fatty duck or goose liver in California, but that could change again. As Lesley McClurg reports the state of California is appealing a federal ruling that lifted the state’s ban on serving the delicacy.

Amit Raheja is a regular at Mulvaney's B&L in midtown Sacramento. Foie Gras is one of his favorite dishes. Tonight it's seared with huckleberry compote.  

Raheja: "Essentially it's similar to very dark chocolate. Like you will feel the numbness in your mouth, you don't just feel it in your tongue, it actually travels up and down your jaw. It's a great feeling."

It's served at several other restaurants around town.

Chef Mulvaney put foie gras back on the menu the moment the ban was lifted last month. 

Mulvaney: "The first night we did seared foie gras with pain perdu or french toast with a little bit of maple syrup in honor of our friends in the Hudson Valley."

He sources the specialty from Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York. It's the country's primary producer and distributor. Mulvaney says he has visited the facility.

Mulvaney: "The farms are beautiful and clean. Yes, the ducks are raised in a spectacular setting, but really raised really well."

The farm has been criticized by animal rights groups. Fatty liver is made by force-feeding ducks or geese corn through a feeding tube. Brian Pease is with the Animal Protection and Rescue League. He's also visited Hudson Valley, and he documented what he saw in an undercover investigation.

Pease: "So, what these producers do is ram these large metal pipes down the throats of ducks and pump them full of massive quantities of food to enlarge their livers to over twelve times their normal size over the course of several weeks."

The final word on foie gras is yet to come.

If the federal ruling is overturned, California will be the only state where both the production and sale of foie gras are banned. 

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