The accusation came from animal rights’ group the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) in oral hearings at the district court in Los Angeles, California, over a proposed ban of the controversial meat product.
The ALDF claimed the USDA was violating the Poultry Products Inspection Act by allowing foie gras producers to use traditional force-feeding techniques.
The latest legal challenge to foie gras sales in the US came after the USDA denied a petition from the ALDF calling for the removal of the fattened duck or goose-liver product from supermarket shelves.
The USDA declined to comment on the current lawsuit, amid the ongoing litigation.
But Marcus Henley, vice president of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, one of only two US-based foie gras producers, described the case as “simply ridiculous”. Henley said his business had been involved in over 50 legal cases pertaining to foie gras since 2006 and described the ALDF lawsuit - which his businesses is not involved in - as “a terrible waste of time”.
However, ALDF executive director Stephen Wells said that not only is foie gras the “product of animal torture”, but consumption of “pathologically diseased livers” can be harmful to people.
‘Serious’ health risk
In a statement on the day of the trial, Wells referenced a 2007 study by the National Academy of Sciences that linked consumption of foie gras to secondary amyloidosis, a rare but serious condition caused by the build-up of abnormal proteins in the body, which if untreated can lead to organ failure and death.
“Given the potentially serious consequences of eating this diseased organ, the government should be safeguarding the consuming public from it, not fighting to keep it in our food supply,” he said.
The sale of foie gras is legal in the US, but production is banned in the state of California.
A decision on the lawsuit has yet to be announced.