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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Groups Come Together To Defend Foie Gras Ban

Farm Sanctuary, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Heartland Café, Bistro Campagne and two Chicago residents, Jana Kohl and Jennifer Martin, have filed a petition to intervene in a lawsuit over Chicago's foie gras ordinance. The groups are seeking to support the city of Chicago's humane ordinance which is being challenged in court by the Illinois Restaurant Association.

On April 26, the Chicago City Council voted by an overwhelming vote of 48 to 1 to ban the sale of foie gras in the city limits. The ordinance went into effect on Aug. 23. The restaurant association then filed a lawsuit against the city of Chicago seeking to invalidate the ordinance and obtain an injunction prohibiting its enforcement. The city of Chicago has already filed a motion to dismiss the case and supports this petition to intervene.

Says Gene Bauston, president of Farm Sanctuary, "The Chicago City Council voted to stop supporting animal cruelty by prohibiting the sale of an inhumane product. The City Council's decision benefits not only animals, but also compassionate Chicago residents. We intend to do everything we can to support the city's efforts to uphold the ordinance and we are confident the court will ultimately reject the restaurant association's self-interested attack on this humane law."

Foie gras (translated from French as "fatty liver") is produced by force-feeding ducks and geese two or three times each day through a pipe shoved down their throats. The force-feeding can cause painful bruising, lacerations, sores and even organ rupture. Due to this unhealthy and unnatural diet, the birds' livers become clinically diseased and can swell up to 10 times their normal size, making it difficult for the birds to walk or even breathe and many suffer a slow death before reaching slaughter. Experts assert the practice is abusive and cruel and examinations of birds following slaughter reveal ruptured esophagi and livers, grossly swollen and discolored livers and a host of internal and external infections.

"The more than 65,000 Chicagoans who count themselves as members and supporters of The Humane Society of the United States couldn't be prouder of the city's foie gras ordinance," says Michael Markarian, executive vice president of The HSUS. "The baseless attacks on this humane law are just as tough to swallow as the cruel force-feeding of ducks and geese."

More than a dozen countries have laws prohibiting foie gras production on ethical grounds and, in 2004, California passed the first U.S. law to end the production and sale of foie gras in the state. A Zogby poll conducted in September 2005 revealed 79 percent of likely voters in Illinois agree that foie gras production should be outlawed.

Additional information about foie gras, legislation banning its sale or production, as well as a list of restaurants and retail establishments -- including more than 200 in Illinois -- that have pledged to not serve the product, can be found at

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