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Supreme Court won't hear dispute over California law prohibiting sale of foie gras

NewsSupreme Court won't hear dispute over California law prohibiting sale of foie gras


  • The Supreme Court will not get involved in an argument over a California animal cruelty law that prohibits foie gras from being sold in the state.
  • Foie gras is made from the enlarged livers of force-fed ducks and geese, and animal welfare groups had supported the law.
  • The law doesn’t completely forbid Californians from eating foie Gras. Courts ruled that residents can still order foie gras from out-of-state producers and have it sent to them.

The Supreme Court said Monday it won’t get involved in a dispute over a California animal cruelty law that bars foie gras from being sold in the state, leaving in place a lower court ruling dismissing the case.

Foie gras is made from the enlarged livers of force-fed ducks and geese, and animal welfare groups had supported the law. As is typical, the court did not comment in declining to hear the case, and it was among many the court said Monday it would not hear.

The law doesn’t completely bar Californians from eating foie gras in the state. Courts have ruled that residents can still order foie gras from out-of-state producers and have it sent to them. Restaurants and retailers are still forbidden from selling it or giving it away, however.

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Supreme Court Foie Gras

A serving of salt-cured fresh foie gras with herbs is displayed at Chef Didier Durand’s Cyrano’s Bistrot and Wine Bar in Chicago, on Aug. 9, 2006. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

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The foie gras case had been on hold at the high court while the justices considered a different case involving another California animal cruelty law, that one governing the sale of pork in the state. In that case, the justices earlier this month backed that law, which requires more space for breeding pigs. The pork industry has said the ruling will lead to higher costs nationwide for pork chops and bacon.

California’s foie gras law, however, predates the pork law and went into effect in July 2012. It says: “A product may not be sold in California if it is the result of force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size.”

Farmers and producers of poultry products in Canada sued over the law along with New York-based Hudson Valley Foie Gras. The case has been going on since 2012. Most recently, a trial court dismissed the case and a federal appeals court agreed with that outcome. The Supreme Court’s decision not to step in leaves that decision in place.

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