Avian flu has achieved what animal rights protesters have spent years trying to do - halt the production of foie gras in France, as officials attempt to contain an epidemic of the virus.

Breeders across 18 areas – or départements – in south-west France cannot send their ducks or geese for slaughter until at least August, France’s agriculture ministry said.

The move is intended to help health officials to contain an epidemic of avian flu – H5N1 – spreading across farms in the area.

But, it effectively means a halt to a significant amount of foie gras production in the country.

France produces three quarters of the world’s foie gras and the south-west is a major production zone. Prices are expected to rise and government officials have promised to compensate producers.

Animal rights protesters, such as Peta, have spent years arguing that the traditional process of producing foie gras – force-feeding geese and ducks grains to swell their livers – is cruel and should be banned outright in France.

It has become a political issue in several countries. In the US in 2012, California banned foie gras produced in this way, but the ban was overturned in 2015. California officials have lodged an appeal to get it re-instated.

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  • Hervé LALAU

    I don’t rant. I think this kind of Peta propaganda is not to be published in a wine magazine and it is my right to eat what’s legally on offer, and march it with good wine. What’s more, having visited several goose farms in the South West, I deny that the farmers don’t care about the animal welfare – indeed they care much more than a lot of butchers.

  • Craig Shapiro

    The ban should be permanent. Foie gras production is unimaginably cruel and how anyone can eat it knowing the suffering and abuse that geese and ducks endure is beyond me.

  • Kim Marie

    Amen. It’s wrong to force-feed ducks and geese so that their livers grow unnaturally large (and sometimes burst) anyway.

  • Rose Louise

    I hope this ban becomes permanent. The only way to make foie gras is to force a bird to eat so much more food than he naturally would that his liver becomes diseased and engorged. That’s torture, not a delicacy.

  • Heather Moore

    The best way to prevent bird flu is to stop raising birds for food. Foie gras should be banned permanently anyway. Pumping ducks and geese so full of food that their livers become diseased and expand as much as 10 times their normal size is just sick.

  • Adrian Gray

    I think you are giving gourmets a bad name with this rant. If you don’t care how the animals that go into your food are treated, then shame on you. I am a gourmet and I take pride in sourcing my food from producers who care about the welfare of their animals. As you should know, being a self-proclaimed gourmet, the quality of the product is directly related to how the animals are treated. And yes, I do enjoy foie gras and Yquem, but not foie gras from low quality, mass produced, and no doubt ill-treated, birds. In a democracy the views of Peta are just as valid as yours!

  • Hervé LALAU

    The South West is not the only producing region in France – Alsace is not concerned by the ban, fortunately, and will hopefully increase its production. And Hungary too. So I shall still be able to enjoy foie gras and a good sweet wine. Please, Mr Mercer, think about your gourmet readers before endorsing the discourse of Peta and suchlike activists.
    What difference do you see between them and anti-alcohol lobbies? People who think for you and try to impose their ideas on you? So called animal rights supporters who forget to tell you that these animals would simply not be born if the producers did not raise them for foie gras production. So what do they suggest instead? A goose museum in 3D for kids not to forget what these animals looked like? Still water and quorn for everybody? No, thanks!