Le texte original de la loi californienne interdisant l’alimentation forcée des oiseaux

Bill: S.B. No. 1520

TOPIC: Force fed birds.

INTRODUCED BY Senator Burton

FEBRUARY 19, 2004


SECTION 1. Chapter 13.4 (commencing with Section 25980) is added to Division 20 of the Health and Safety Code, to read: CHAPTER 13.4. FORCE FED BIRDS

25980. For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(a) A bird includes, but is not limited to, a duck or goose.

(b) Force feeding a bird means a process that causes the bird to consume more food than a typical bird of the same species would consume voluntarily. Force feeding methods include, but are not limited to, delivering feed through a tube or other device inserted into the bird's esophagus.

25981. A person may not force feed a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird's liver beyond normal size, or hire another person to do so.

25982. A product may not be sold in California if it is the result of force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird' s liver beyond normal size.

25983. (a) A peace officer, officer of a humane society as qualified under Section 14502 or 14503 of the Corporations Code, or officer of an animal control or animal regulation department of a public agency, as qualified under Section 830.9 of the Penal Code, may issue a citation to a person or entity that violates this chapter.

(b) A citation issued under this section shall require the person cited to pay a civil penalty in an amount up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each violation, and up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each day the violation continues. The civil penalty shall be payable to the local agency initiating the proceedings to enforce this chapter to offset the costs to the agency related to court proceedings.

(c) A person or entity that violates this chapter may be prosecuted by the district attorney of the county in which the violation occurred, or by the city attorney of the city in which the violation occurred.

25984. (a) Sections 25980, 25981, 25982, and 25983 of this chapter shall become operative on July 1, 2012.

(b) (1) No civil or criminal cause of action shall arise on or after January 1, 2005, nor shall a pending action commenced prior to January 1, 2005, be pursued under any provision of law against a person or entity for engaging, prior to July 1, 2012, in any act prohibited by this chapter.

(2) The limited immunity from liability provided by this subdivision shall not extend to acts prohibited by this chapter that are committed on or after July 1, 2012.

(3) The protections afforded by this subdivision shall only apply to persons or entities who were engaged in, or controlled by persons or entities who were engaged in, agricultural practices that involved force feeding birds at the time of the enactment of this chapter.

(c) It is the express intention of the Legislature, by delaying the operative date of provisions of this chapter pursuant to subdivision (a) until July 1, 2012, to allow a seven and one-half year period for persons or entities engaged in agricultural practices that include raising and selling force fed birds to modify their business practices.

Commentaires présentés à l’assemblée californienne sur la loi SB 1520


Purpose of this bill

According to the author's office, this bill is intended to prohibit the force feeding of ducks and geese for the purpose of enlarging their livers beyond their normal size. Force feeding is the common method used to produce foie gras and is accomplished by restraining the bird and inserting a 10- to 12-inch metal or plastic tube into the bird's esophagus and delivering large amounts of concentrated meal and compressed air into the bird. This process is repeated up to three times a day for several weeks until the liver reaches the desired size and the bird is slaughtered. The author's office contends that the force feeding process is so hard on the birds that they would die from the pathological damage it inflicts if they weren't slaughtered first. The force feeding causes birds to develop chronic liver disease called hepatic lipidosis, in which a bird's liver swells to about 10 times its normal size. This swollen liver can cause many health problems and eventually makes walking and breathing difficult for the bird. Further, the liver may hemorrhage due to its size.

The author's office further details that the mechanics of force feeding can also cause injuries as a result of the use of the tube, the food being too hot, bruising of the esophagus, and asphyxia by forcing food down the trachea of the bird. The author's office states that no other livestock product is produced via force feeding and that it is a cruel and inhumane process that should be banned. Recently, Zogby International headquartered in New York conducted interviews of 1,000 likely voters chosen at random nationwide. More than three of four voters (77%) agreed that the process of force-feeding of ducks and geese in order to produce foie gras should be banned by law in the United States, while 16% disagreed and 7% were not sure.


Foie gras is a French term meaning "fatty liver" and is produced by force-feeding ducks and geese large amounts of meal that enlarges their livers. A fatty liver was produced traditionally from geese. However, in recent years, there has been widespread change to the use of ducks rather than geese, mainly for financial reasons. The duck chosen for foie gras production is a hybrid between a Muscovy duck and the domestic duck. European countries such as France and Hungary are among the largest producers.

In the United States there are three producers of foie gras, Hudson Valley Foie Gras company and La Belle Poultry in upstate New York, that together produce about 90% of foie gras, and Sonoma Foie Gras (SFG) that provides about 10% of the domestic supply. SFG has a farm with about 20,000 ducks in the Central Valley and ships between 1,000 and 1,500 ducks a week, selling all the duck meat, not just the livers, nationwide through Grimaud Farms. There are about 14 employees at SFG with annual sales of about $1,500,000, with 60% of its business coming from selling foie gras.

The practice of force feeding

The force-feeding process begins when ducks are 12 to 15 weeks old. During the force feeding period, ducks (which had previously been fed an increasing but limited amount of food) are forcibly fed large amounts of food, 2-3 times a day, for about two weeks. This normally results in the increase of the size of the liver to about 10 times the normal liver size of the bird. The amount of food deposited during each force feeding is considerably more than the normal intake, and as the procedure is repeated, the quantity of energy rich food (such as corn mash) which the birds are forced to ingest is much greater that that which the birds would eat voluntarily. The ducks are sometimes kept 10 to a pen about 10 square feet in size, and in low light to keep them calmer. To feed the ducks, a worker will hold the bird between his or her knees and grasps the head, inserting a tube of about 10 inches down the bird's esophagus.

An overhead funnel connected to the tube pumps in a dose of the food, creating a golf ball-sized bulge as it goes down. Doses start at about five ounces and build up to about 14 ounces.

Effects of force feeding on birds

In 1998, the European Union (EU) requested that its Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (EU Scientific Committee) produce a report on the animal welfare aspects of the production of foie gras using ducks and geese. Members of the EU Scientific Committee foie gras working group included a dozen professors of veterinary medicine and agricultural scientists from across Europe. The EU Scientific Committee report was completed in December 1998, and the conclusion was that force-feeding, as currently practiced, is detrimental to the welfare of the birds. Further, it was found that the force feeding of ducks and geese along with confinement causes physical problems, including respiratory, metabolic, and locomotive impairment. Foie gras production facilities prevent birds from engaging in their natural exploratory activities and social behaviors, leading to depression and frustration, while the force feeding process creates very high stress levels for the birds. They also found that elevated death rates was another indication of welfare problems associated with foie gras production.

Other countries

There are at least fourteen countries that have banned the practice of force feeding birds to produce foie gras, either with explicit language in the laws, or as part of the general animal cruelty law. As of January 2004, Italy banned foie gras production, following the lead of Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, and Poland. Other countries whose laws have been interpreted to ban the force feeding of birds for foie gras production include Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Perhaps most significantly, Israel, once the world's fourth largest foie gras producer, recently banned foie gras production. In August 2003, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a 39-page decision declaring foie gras production to be contrary to the country's animal protection laws. In issuing its opinion, the Chief Justice stated :

There is no real controversy with respect to the fact that the practice of force feeding causes suffering to the geese. The goose is prevented from eating freely and is forcefully fed several times a day with high energy food in quantity far above its physiological requirements. The process whereby a metal tube, through which the food is packed into its stomach, is introduced into the goose's body is violent and harmful. The process causes a degenerative disease in the goose's liver and enlargement of the liver up to ten times its normal size. There is no controversy that without the injury to the goose liver, it is not possible, at present, to produce fatty goose liver.

The court concluded its declaration by stating :

No one denies that these creatures also feel the pain inflicted upon them through physical harm or a violent intrusion into their bodies. Indeed, whoever wishes to, may find, in the circumstances of this appeal, prima facie justification for the acts of artificial force feeding, justification whose essence is the need to retain the farmer's source of livelihood and enhance the gastronomic delight of others. But this has a price - and the price is reducing the dignity of Man himself.

Grocers are refusing to purchase foie gras. According to recent press articles, Trader Joe's and other grocers have decided to stop carrying all duck meat and foie gras. Whole Foods Market, which is a national chain headquartered in Austin, Texas with over 145 stores and $3.2 billion in sales, announced that it is developing enhanced animal-treatment standards, starting with those for ducks, and expects to implement the new standards by the end of 2004. Grimaud Farm's which sells Muscovy ducks to Whole Foods and other high-end retailers, and is also the custom processor for SFG, would be the most impacted. Whole Foods has made it clear that they do not want any of their producers to be connected with any foie gras company.

Free market

According to supporters, "the concepts of a free market and free choice assume a fully-informed public, but the vast majority of the public is certainly not fully informed when it comes to the cruelty and suffering involved in the production of foie gras. Moreover, our society's free market and free choice values have never been free of moral constraints, including with respect to food. This is certainly not the first time the California Legislature would be telling the market and the public that they can buy and sell and eat as they please, but only to the extent that their actions are not inhumane. The Legislature has already made the sale of the meat of horses and cats and dogs for human consumption a Penal Code violation. It is a tiny step to prohibit the sale of the livers of the birds produced under conditions that cause the birds tremendous suffering."

Other methods for producing foie gras ?

According to the EU Scientific Committee, one study experimented with new technical approaches in order to obtain fatty liver without force-feeding. The researchers destroyed the medio-ventral nucleus of the hypothalamus of geese by electrolytic lesion in order to induce hyperphagy. They obtained hyperphagy (heightened feeding activity) effectively for a short period, so that the geese had an increase in body weight and in the weight of the liver, but the weight increases were lower than those obtained with animals which were force-fed.

In a second approach, researchers injected specific drugs to induce obesity and a fattened liver, however the weight increases were still lower than those obtained by force-fed animals. The other possibility suggested by the EU Scientific Committee for fatty liver production could be to feed ad libitum (free access to food). The resulting product, however, is not what is demanded by the consumer. The liver includes fat, but to a much lower degree than in force fed birds. It might be possible, as suggested by the EU Scientific Committee, to breed birds for a larger appetite. If this were done, it would be important to ensure that the resulting increases in the sizes of the body as a whole, or of particular organs, did not result in poor welfare, for example of leg pain or organ malfunction. If the birds with good welfare and a large, but not pathologically changed liver were produced, a high fat content pate would have to be produced by the addition of fat. The EU Scientific Committee recommended that research should be continued to look into methods of producing fatty liver, which do not require the use of force-feeding.