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Is eating foie gras an animal welfare issue?

Most foie gras (a type of duck/goose liver paté), especially that produced in France, comes from ducks or geese that have been force-fed. During this process, the birds’ beaks are forced open, a tube is passed down the throat, and grain is forced into their stomach under pressure. Birds are fed far more than they would choose to eat naturally.

As a result, the liver becomes massively enlarged, up to 6 times its normal size, and accumulates so much fat that it no longer functions properly. Not only can the birds’ throats be damaged due to the force-feeding process, a lack of calcium in the diet leads to weakened bones and multiple fractures, while the abnormally sized liver expands the abdomen, making it difficult for the birds to move or breathe properly. In some cases, the liver damage may lead to heart or kidney failure, or the liver itself may haemorrhage. At the time they are slaughtered, the birds are in an advanced state of disease.

RSPCA is opposed to the sale and consumption of foie gras as its method of production seriously jeopardises the welfare of ducks and geese. This method of production is not used in Australia – all foie gras pate sold in Australia is imported. If you see foie gras for sale or on a restaurant menu and you share the RSPCA’s concerns over its production, please make your views known.

Updated on August 6, 2021
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