1998 SCAHAW Report: Obsolescence of findings, methodological limitations and opacity of observations
The Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Welfare (SCAHAW), replaced in 2004 by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), drew up a report in 1998 on the welfare of geese and ducks in foie gras production. In spite of a limited methodology and highly questionable conclusions and recommendations, the report is used by the foie gras opponents as a scientific endorsement; yet this endorsement is very weak considering that the report was not able to demonstrate the pathological character of liver steatosis, nor the hypothesis of stress or fear of the palmipeds at the time of assisted feeding. Worse still, the report is inaccurate with regard to the length of time the ducklings are kept indoors, the access of the palmipeds to light and their ability to stand up straight.
In addition to the shortcomings of the report, it should be noted that the conditions for rearing fat palmipeds have changed since its publication, and that other more rigorous studies have been published. Euro Foie Gras has taken the time to do an in-depth analysis of the various arguments developed in the report in order to provide reliable and correct information on the subject. You will find all the details of our analysis in our position paper.
In light of the elements stressed by Euro Foie Gras, the SCAHAW report cannot be cited as a reference report on the welfare of fat palmipeds and used against the sector.
The Federation continues to promote research with the aim of constantly improving practices for the benefit of animals, producers and consumers alike. Euro Foie Gras relies on trustworthy scientific data to ensure the well-being of the fat palmipeds on a daily basis.
Eager to go further than European legislation, the five European countries producing foie gras adopted in 2011 the European Charter on breeding of waterfowl for foie gras. This Charter sets out the commitments of the sector based on the 12 principles of the European Commission’s “Welfare Quality Project”.
At the national level, this proactive approach comes in different ways. In Belgium, the Royal Decree of 1994, modified in 2010, enacts specific obligations relating to the housing of fat palmipeds; in France, the voluntary approach “Palm I Trust” aims to guarantee and certify the good practices of the breeders with regard to animal welfare; and in Hungary, the Hungarian Poultry Council adopted in 2011 a Code of Good Practice for the waterfowl sector.