Foie gras legal again in Chicago

Published on July 01, 2008
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Chicago's City Council repealed a controversial, two-year-old ban on foie gras, making it legal once again for the delicacy made from duck and goose liver to be sold at city restaurants.

Mayor Richard Daley, who once called the ban "the silliest law the City Council has ever passed," chaired the session and prohibited any debate on the measure, which passed by a 37-6 vote on May 14.

Foie gras is a result of force-feeding grain to ducks and geese to create lipidosis, which makes the birds' livers grow to several times the normal size.

The practice has no small number of critics. Chicago became the first city in the nation when it prohibited sales of foie gras in April 2006. Two years earlier, California passed a ban on the delicacy that will take effect in 2012. The AVMA has no position on the production of foie gras.

The Illinois Restaurant Association sued to have the Chicago ordinance overturned, but a federal judge dismissed the case, saying the city has the authority to regulate the sale of food items. Daley was one of the ordinance's most vocal—and powerful—opponents, however.

City restaurants welcomed news that the delicacy was once again legal. Chef Didier Durand, co-founder of Chicago Chefs for Choice, told the Chicago Tribune, "Restaurateurs are so happy and ecstatic. This is a delicacy that traces back 5,000 years; we don't need a ban."

Julie Janovsky, Farm Sanctuary's director of campaigns, said Chicago's City Council had "effectively endorsed animal cruelty" by repealing the ban.