Foie Gras Legal Again in California

California’s ban on the sale of duck foie gras in the state was struck down by a federal judge in Los Angeles Wednesday, pleasing gourmands and frustrating animal-rights activists.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson sided with an association of Quebec foie gras makers and permanently enjoined California from enforcing its 2012 ban.

Foie gras is a delicacy made from fattened duck liver. Animal rights groups have long opposed it because the ducks are force fed through a tube inserted in its throat to enlarge its liver.

California banned the import and sale of foie gras in the state and the Association des Eleveurs de Canards et D’Oies du Quebec sued.

The association argued that the law is preempted by federal rules.

Federal law regulating poultry products expressly preempts the state law, Wilson said.

“California cannot regulate foie gras products ingredients by creatively phrasing its law in terms of the manner in which those ingredients were produced,” he wrote.

Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban on different grounds, saying it did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause.  The association took its case back to Wilson and launched a new attack on the law on the preemption grounds that succeeded today.

Case:  Association des Eleveurs de Canards v. Harris, No. 12-5735


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