Report: Investigation into the foie gras farms in Spain

July 24th, 2012 | Animal Equality exposes the cruelty of the foie gras industry




Animal rights organisation Animal Equality presents a shocking new undercover investigation into the foie gras industry in France. Animal Equality investigators visited four ‘traditional’ farms located in the south east of France. Traditional farming allegedly guarantees ‘higher welfare’ conditions. However at each of the farms visited, Animal Equality documented shocking scenes of physical violence and psychological suffering.

Ducks and geese exploited to produce foie gras are subjected to the agony of routine force-feeding so that farmers can obtain from them diseased, fatty livers (hepatic lipidosis). In the wild, these animals would live between 10 and 15 years, however for this industry, they are killed when only 4 months old.

Dozens of hours of video and audio, and more than 153 photographs obtained by Animal Equality document the shocking reality of life for ducks and geese confined and force-fed for foie gras production in France.

France is the largest producer and exporter of foie gras. Over 20,000 tons is produced and approximately 700,000 geese and 37 million ducks are slaughtered by the French foie gras industry each year.

Appallingly, whilst foie gras production was banned in the United Kingdom during 2000, it is still legal to import foie gras products into the country and sell them here. The UK has imported a total of 6,388,543 kg between 2007 and 2011, and also exported 2,547 kg during 2011.



July 15th, 2012 | The torture behind the foie gras sold in Mugartiz, considered the third best restaurant in the world



Olga Posse, the owner of the foie gras farm Momotegui, admits as we have shown on our investigation, that she kills the animals without stunning them. This way the animals will bleed to death much faster, as they are moving and flapping their wings. She says that this process makes the foie gras, which is then sold to Mugaritz, have a "higher quality".

We have documented the suffering of animals subjected to forced feeding and killed while they are fully conscious.

July 5th, 2012 | The Catalonian foie gras industry exposed!



The animal rights organisation Animal Equality presents new research that reveals the foie gras industry in Catalonia. Animal Equality has documented the entire process of foie gras production on farms in Catalonia - when the ducklings arrive from French hatcheries only a few hours old, to when they are subjected to the force-feeding process and finally killed.

The Animal Equality Research Team has contacted all companies producing foie gras during 2012, both in Catalonia and the rest of the state, thus making a detailed study of the situation for animals exploited in this industry. We found that official records and statistics on foie gras production are out of date and do not accurately represent the current scale of the foie gras industry.

Our investigators visited five farms in Catalonia - one being the most productive, supplying to the company 'Interpalm' which is owned by the president of the Spanish Association and Producers of foie gras.

The Animal Equality Research Team has witnessed shocking scenes of physical and psychological suffering on all farms visited. Through dozens of hours of video and audio, and more than 350 unique images, they documented the dramatic reality of life for ducks subjected to force-feeding for the production of foie gras in Catalonia:

We also know, thanks to the statements of farmers and producers:

In the Spanish state, annually, the foie gras industry denies freedom to more than one million ducks, subjecting them to the agony of force-feeding in order to obtain from them a large liver with a high proportion of fat. Animals that are free would live to between 10 and 15 years, but they are killed by the industry when only 4 months old.

In addition to violating the lives of ducks, their interests and their desire not to suffer, our Research Team was able to identify the following legal irregularities:

Foie gras bans in different countries

Building on the results of this research by Animal Equality, we ask for the immediate closure of all foie gras farms in France and in Spain, and the prohibition of the production, supply and sale of foie gras in the EU.


Foie gras production

What is foie gras?

The foie gras is the fatty liver that is obtained from wading birds (geese and ducks usually) subjected to forced feeding. Force feeding is a process whereby a metal funnel filled with corn is regularly and painfully forced down the throat of the farmed birds. It is otherwise known as the ‘gavage process’. As a result, the size of the liver of these animals rapidly increases - reaching up to ten times the standard size, and acquiring a yellow-coloured, rounded and pasty consistency.

According to current EU Legislation, for a bird's liver to be considered "foie gras", it must meet the following requirements:

Main producers

France is by far the largest producer (and consumer) of foie gras, producing 78.5% of the world’s production. Foie gras is also produced and consumed in other countries around the world, particularly in Europe, the United States, and China2.

La localización de las granjas criadoras, recriadoras y cebadoras de patos para foie, por comunidades autónomas, es la siguiente:

Bulgaria is the world's second-largest foie gras (libamáj) producer, with 10.2% of world production followed by Hungary 8,2%. France is the biggest market for Bulgarian foie gras, importing 1700 tons a year. It is followed by Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, which jointly account for 800 tons.

Approximately 30,000 people are members of the French foie gras industry - with 90% of them residing in France (the Périgord (Dordogne), the Midi-Pyrénées régions, and Alsace).

The EU accepts imports of foie gras produced on ‘traditional’ farms, such as those documented by Animal Equality.

Slaughter

After the force feeding process has concluded, the liver of these animals have reached between 500 and 600 g in weight. The total weight of a duck subjected to forced feeding is usually around 7 kg.

At this stage, the birds are removed from the cages where had been fattening to be slaughtered.

In the slaughter room, ducks are usually stunned by electric shock, then stabbed with a knife and hung upside down for bleeding-out. Thereafter, the animals are lifted into the scalding tank, which has temperatures of 45°C to 65°C, to facilitate the plucking of feathers.

The fatty liver is then removed, and the bodies of the ducks are refrigerated to be processed.

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