Notable and award-winning actors, veterinarians, comedians, and sportspeople have sent an open letter today to the prime minister calling for an end to the UK’s importation of foie gras.
In response to confirmation from environment secretary Thérèse Coffey that the proposed import ban on foie gras has been shelved by the government because it does not consider it a priority for parliamentary time, a group of some of the UK’s most influential stars has teamed up with PETA and Animal Equality to send an urgent letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The celebrity collective is calling on the PM to follow the lead of King Charles, who recently prohibited foie gras from being served in all royal residences, by bringing forward the long-promised legislation prohibiting imports of this vile product known as “torture in a tin”.
The letter is signed by actors Miriam Margolyes OBE, Sir Mark Rylance, Peter Egan, Sian Clifford, and Diane Morgan; comedians Paul O’Grady MBE, Jon Richardson, Jo Brand, and Josh Widdicombe; singer and presenter Alesha Dixon; supermodel Dame Lesley Lawson (Twiggy); sailor Tracy Edwards MBE; and medical experts Dr Marc Abraham OBE and Dr Amir Khan and follows confirmation that the proposed bans on both foie gras and fur imports have been shelved by the government because it does not consider it a priority for parliamentary time.
Foie Gras = Torture in a Tin
Drawing attention to the plight of ducks and geese used for foie gras production, the collective describes the force-feeding process as “abysmally cruel” and argues that “we must end the UK’s complicity in this appalling trade”.
Foie gras has long been criticised for the force-feeding process used to produce it, known as “gavage”, which involves thrusting a metal tube down the throats of caged ducks and geese several times a day and pumping them full of grain until their livers swell to 10 times their natural size, causing chronic pain and disease.
This process is illegal in the UK, yet the government continues to allow the import of foie gras made using this unspeakably cruel method.
Investigations into farms in Europe have revealed sick, dying, and dead animals. The long metal feeding pipes leave some birds so badly injured that they have holes in their necks, broken beaks, and inflammation of the oesophagus.
Their engorged livers press against other organs, including their lungs, causing them to pant constantly. The birds are often left to languish in cramped metal cages or pens, coated in dirt and vomit and covered with sores.
At the end of their short lives, their throats are cut and their diseased livers are sold and marketed as foie gras. Some animals are just 12 weeks old when they are slaughtered.
The vast majority of Brits – including King Charles – reject foie gras. Having garnered over 250,000 signatures in support of our campaigns to end the importation of foie gras made by force-feeding, we teamed up with Animal Equality UK to coordinate this latest action.
Calling for a ban is a move the letter’s signatories believe “would be celebrated across the country”. The letter adds that the government appears “out of touch” with public opinion by defending continued imports of the “luxury” item during a cost of living crisis. Foie gras typically sells for as much as £100 per tin.
According to YouGov polls commissioned by Animal Equality in May 2022, 86% of respondents who expressed an opinion were opposed to the force-feeding of animals and 81% of UK citizens surveyed are in favour of a ban.
In February 2021, high-end department store Fortnum & Mason stopped stocking foie gras following a decade-long campaign by PETA. Tate Modern and London restaurants Skylon and Bluebird are among those that have dropped the product.
Many MPs, including Labour MP Hilary Benn, SNP MP Dr Lisa Cameron, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, Plaid Cymru MP Ben Lake, and DUP MP Jim Shannon as well as Conservative MPs Henry Smith, Sir Mike Penning, and Sir Roger Gale, have also voiced their opposition to foie gras.
We Must Keep Foie Gras out of the UK
A ban on force-feeding animals is already in place in the UK, as the practice was made illegal by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. Despite this, around 200 tonnes of foie gras enters the UK each year, condoning the suffering of hundreds of thousands of animals.
Brexit gives the UK the opportunity to keep foie gras out of the country. We call on the prime minister to heed the wishes of the people and bring forward legislation banning the import of tormented birds’ livers immediately. Will you join us?