Foie gras, the luxe delicacy made from fatty duck or goose livers, is no longer contraband on California menus.
A federal judge on Wednesday lifted a statewide ban on the sale of foie gras, which is made from the engorged liver of ducks or geese that have been force-fed to create the food’s signature rich, creamy taste.
Animal rights activists have long denounced foie gras as a product of animal cruelty. In 2004, California voters approved a ban on the production and sale of foie gras in the state, but it didn’t take effect until eight years later. Now U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson has ruled that the ban clashes with an existing federal law that regulates the sale and distribution of poultry products.
The three plaintiffs in the case include two foie gras producers and Los Angeles-based Hot’s Restaurant Group, which filed suit the day after the ban took effect in 2012.
Indeed, Hot’s Kitchen, based in Hermosa Beach, Calif., is among the many restaurants in the state that have been skirting the ban ever since it took effect, illicitly stashing and serving foie gras. Chefs and foodies likened the ban to Prohibition, and “duckeasies” popped up to satisfy demand for foie gras, which usually sells at a premium in high-end restaurants. But by offering it free as a gift from the kitchen, restaurants argued they weren’t “selling” foie gras or violating the ban.
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