Court Rejects São Paulo Law Banning Foie Gras
Foie gras is a delicacy that originated in France and has spread to other parts of the world. It’s made from the fatty liver of force-fed geese and ducks. Some people argue the birds are subject to animal cruelty during production.
A June 26th law made it illegal for foie gras to be produced or sold in São Paulo. Enacted in Brazil’s largest city, the law gave restaurants 45 days to comply with the ban or face a fine of 5,000 reais (about US$1,600). Nevertheless, on July 14, a São Paulo court granted an injunction and suspended the new law. And most recently, an appeals court upheld the injunction.
As of now, consumption of foie gras purchased both inside as well as outside of São Paulo continues to be legal.
While some people were excited about banning foie gras, others were outraged. From the time the ban was proposed, there was a dividing line between animal activists and food enthusiasts, most especially the chefs creating foie gras. City Councilman Laercio Benko, author of the law, said:
Foie gras is an appetizer for the wealthy. It does not benefit human health and to make it, the birds are submitted to a lot of suffering.
On the other side of the issue, there are those who feel the city should not be able to regulate what the people eat, and wonder just how far the government will go. Alex Atala is a chef at D.O.M., a São Paulo-based restaurant ranked as one of the best restaurants in the world. Even before the ban originally went into effect, Atala called the proposal “absurd,” and told Universo Online:
Gastronomy is good for tourism and instead of restricting it, they should promote it.
Regardless of whether the ban will go into effect, and even expand to other parts of the country, there are likely to be those who continue to have strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Production of foie gras has faced criticism and even bans in a variety of other cities and countries worldwide on the grounds of animal cruelty. Some of the areas that have banned the production of foie gras include Great Britain, Italy, Germany, and Argentina.