Restaurants in the UK could be forced to take foie gras off the menu for good, as Brexit clears the way to a full ban on the delicacy.
It has been illegal to produce foie gras and conduct the cruel practice of gavage (force-feeding) since 2006, when animal welfare laws were introduced in order to stop production practices that caused “an animal to suffer unnecessarily”. The legislation was seen as a major victory for animal welfare groups, however, Britain’s membership in the single market and the EU meant a full ban on the importation and sale of foie gras was not possible. Now ministers are looking to ban it altogether.
Despite concerns over animal welfare, Britain’s diners still present an appetite for the controversial ingredient, and the country imports some 200 tonnes per year.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The government has made clear that the production of foie gras from ducks or geese using force-feeding raises serious welfare concerns, and the practice is rightly banned in the UK. The government is considering the further steps it could take in relation to foie gras.”
The news has not been welcomed in all corners of the hospitality sector.
“I think it’s absolutely insane that we are talking about banning foie gras and not battery chicken,” Victor Garvey, chef-patron of Michelin-starred Sola, in Soho, told the Evening Standard. “This isn’t about cruelty, it’s about f***ing the rich. You want to ban cruelty? Do it full stop. Don’t just ban something because it’s experience and foreign.”
Alexis Gauthier, of Gauthier restaurant on Romilly Street, told the Standard: “As a French chef, I am impressed to see that Great Britain has acted in such a modern way. I am hoping that France and other forward-thinking nations around the world will follow suit.
“On the morning after the UK left the EU, I wrote to Boris and Carrie about this subject, and I was surprised to get a personal reply promising me that the minute Brexit was done a first priority was to ban foie gras. So, I’m thrilled that 10 Downing St has kept its promise.”