New York City Passes Bill Banning Sale of Foie Gras in Stores, Restaurants

Violators in the city's five boroughs could be penalized with a $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison

What to Know

  • NY City Council on Wednesday passed a bill that bans the sale of foie gras
  • Advocates say the force-feeding of a duck or goose needed to produce it constitutes cruelty to animals
  • The bill imposes a $1,000 fine and up to one year behind bars on any restaurateur or grocery store owner who sells foie gras

The sale of foie gras in New York City is now a faux pas.

City council members on Wednesday passed a bill that bans the sale of fattened liver of a duck at restaurants, gourmet grocery stores and shops starting in 2022. 

A majority of council members had previously already signed on to the bill, which also has the support of animal welfare advocates and other critics who say producing it involved force-feeding a bird by sticking a tube down its throat.

The council vote was 42-6 for the final version of the bill that calls for a fine of up to $2,000 for each violation.

With about 1,000 New York restaurants offering foie gras, top chefs did not take kindly to the news. They believe the renown New York City dining scene will take a hit, and it could mean trouble for farms outside the city that are premier U.S. producers of the French delicacy.

"This is idiocracy," tweeted chef David Chang of the famed restaurant Momofuku, adding, "Stupid short sighted and a misunderstanding of the situation."

"I think a ban on foie gras is ridiculous," said James Beard Award-winner Ken Oringer, co-owner and chef at Manhattan's Toro tapas restaurant. "Food choice is everything and the beauty of our country is that we can make the choice to eat what we want to eat."

He said he supports producers of foie gras in the Catskill Mountains about two hours north of the city.

"I have been to their farms and they operate with the utmost integrity to their farm animals," the chef said.

California banned the delicacy in 2012. It was challenged in federal court, but a federal appeals court eventually upheld the ban. Chicago banned foie gras in 2006, but the ordinance was repealed two years later.

Matthew Dominguez, an advisor to the Voters for Animal Rights nonprofit that opposes foie gras production, countered that group supporters "applaud the city council for relegating the barbaric practice of force-feeding innocent ducks for foie gras to the history books."

That was not the only animal-friendly bill to pass however, as the City Council approved a measure to add more protections for carriage horses.

Since 1989, horse carriages have not been allowed to operate when temperatures were over 90 degrees. On Wednesday, lawmakers voted to alter the arrangement, now forbidding horse-drawn carriages on city streets when heat indices are over 90 degrees.

A ban on the sale, capture or possession of pigeons was also up for vote.

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