In the last few years, California has had an on-again, off-again relationship with foie gras, the fatty liver from ducks and geese that chefs love and animal rights activists loathe.
California enacted a law in 2004 that banned serving foie gras that was produced through force feeding birds in order to fatten up their liver before slaughter. It took nearly a decade for the state to actually enact the law, finally implementing it in 2012. A lawsuit led by foie gras producers succeeded in getting the law struck down in 2015 by a district court judge who ruled that the state law wrongfully superseded federal law.
Now, the ban is back on. A panel of judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated it. “Nothing in the federal law or its implementing regulations limits a state’s ability to regulate the types of poultry that may be sold for human consumption,” Circuit Judge Jacqueline Nguyen wrote in her opinion.
The ban will not take effect immediately. Restaurants will be able to serve the rich, fatty delicacy in the Golden State until the appeals process has concluded. And the litigants say they’re not done with the fight.
“We will appeal,” Marcus Henley, the manager at Hudson Valley Foie Gras in New York, told the Los Angeles Times. “This process may take months. Until this appeal is completed, the law and the ban are not implemented and foie gras is legal to sell and serve in California.”