Animal welfare organisation calls for ban on sale of foie gras in Belgium

Animal welfare organisation calls for ban on sale of foie gras in Belgium
Photo by Aurélien Lemasson-Théobald on Unsplash

Belgian animal welfare organisation GAIA is calling for a ban on the sale of foie gras in the country following an investigation into several farms in Wallonia that they say revealed animal abuse.

Wallonia’s Minister of Animal Welfare Céline Tellier (Ecolo) announced an investigation into the facts in response, and GAIA says the region, like Flanders and Brussels, should ban force-feeding.

“That kind of product of animal cruelty must absolutely be stopped,” said GAIA president Michel Vandenbosch.

Foie gras is a French cuisine defined as the liver of a duck or goose fattened by force feeding, and Flanders and Brussels have banned the production of it through a ban on force feeding itself. The sale of it remains legal, however, meaning that producers in Wallonia can supply both regions with ample amounts so long as it’s made within that region.

“Ministers Weyts (Flemish Minister of Animal Welfare) and Clerfayt (Brussels Minister of Animal Welfare) must now dare to take a step further and do what is necessary to have the sale of cruel torture foie gras banned,” Vandenbosch said.

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Flanders’ only producer of foie gras – a company owned by Filip Callemeyn – submitted a discontinuation dossier to the Flemish government earlier this year in anticipation of the ban on force-feeding coming into effect at the end of 2023, but says they still haven’t had a response.

“Belgians are still the second biggest consumers in Europe after the French. The aficionados just make less noise,” Callemeyn told the Flemish infocentre for agriculture and horticulture (VILT).

He says there’s still support for foie gras and that the holiday season is in fact a very busy time for his company, whose foie gras is sold in the short chain and also finds its way to wholesalers and the hospitality industry all over Belgium.

Callemeyn’s company remains the largest in the country, producing as much as a dozen smaller players in Wallonia. He says that the ban in Flanders truly takes effect, production will simply shift to Wallonia or other European countries.

GAIA produced an award-winning alternative to foie gras, called “faux gras.”

European companies are responsible for 90% of global foie gras production, with France standing head and shoulders above them with more than three quarters of the share of European production and two thirds of world production.

Callemeyn says a ban on sales of foie gras in Flanders would have little effect because consumers would simply buy the product in other countries.

“Besides, there is a free movement of goods and services within Europe and Belgium doesn’t even have the instruments to restrict sales,” he said, calling GAIA’s urging of a ban a publicity stunt “to get into the news again.”

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