Foie gras, the French paté made from goose or duck liver, is set to be banned in New York City on grounds of animal cruelty, a move that animal rights activists have celebrated.
A controversial food celebrated by many chefs and popular in France, foie gras is made by a process called "gavage", where ducks and geese are force-fed through tubes inserted down their throats, a process which has often been called cruel by protesters.
"Foie gras" translates as "fatty liver", and the process is supposed to expand the liver by up to 10 times its usual size.
New York City council voted in favour of the bill, which would see any restaurant or supermarket caught selling foie gras could facing up to one year in prison or a $1,000 fine.
The bill was introduced in August of this year by Carlina Rivera of the New York City council, saying: "Not only does force feeding cause extreme pain and suffering, it is all being done for a luxury product that only a tiny percentage of New York City restaurants serve and is not part of the diet of hardworking New Yorkers."
The bill is causing a stir among New York City restaurants, farmers and foie gras producers who argue that it will put many people out of business. One chef, Ken Oringer of Toro in the city, called the move "crazy" to Bloomberg.
"We are talking about one of the classic fine dining experiences, a unique luxury from France made more affordable because these ducks are raised on local farms. The chickens these council members eat are raised a thousand times worse", he said.
Foie gras production has a thorny history in the US, with two groups of animal rights activists, In Defense of Animals and Animal Protection and Rescue League, suing a California foie gras farm. The sale of foie gras was banned in Chicago in 2006, prompting leading chefs like Eric Ripert to defend foie gras as no more cruel to produce than meat or fish products.
Even more bafflingly, the ban led to a number of chefs and restaurants coming up with ways to dodge the ban, such as Didier Durand of Cyrano's Bistro & Wine Bar who served it as a "roasted potatoes" dish, one sixtyblue restaurant which featured it as a verbal special, and one unnamed restaurant which sold the product as "special lobster".
The ban was lifted in 2008, after much mockery from chefs and politicians. At the time, much of the frustration felt by chefs was due to the feeling that politicians could be targeting commercial farms that supply meat and fish to major chains, rather than a specialty product that only a small amount of people eat.
California currently has a ban in place, and has since 2012.
Production of foie gras is already banned in a number of countries, including the UK, Australia, Germany, Italy and Poland. However, it remains extremely popular in France, where it is consumed the most, as is protected as a "cultural and gastronomical heritage of France".