Why maintaining water bath stunning is important?
In its new position paper on killing methods, Euro Foie Gras is in favor of maintaining water bath stunning for fat palmipeds, at least for slaughterhouses whose slaughter frequency is less than 8,000 poultry/hour. EFSA’s 2019 scientific opinion on the slaughter of poultry indicates that below 8,000 birds/hour on a chain, operators have time to identify if some fat palmipeds are not properly stunned and thus to apply the appropriate corrective measures.
The European foie gras sector also emphasizes that its slaughterhouses comply with animal welfare standards. Getting quality products requires slaughtering properly fat palmipeds in full respect of their welfare and the current water bath stunning system works well if the equipment used is correctly adjusted. In addition, Euro Foie Gras insists on the fact that the veterinary services regularly check fat palmipeds slaughterhouses and each of them has an animal protection officer who ensures that no animal is consciously bled. Furthermore over the last years, the use of a system for recording water bath stunning parameters has allowed to control the correct setting of the system as well as precise monitoring.
Finally, it has been proven that being diving animals in natural conditions, fat palmipeds have a special anatomical capacity which, unlike other poultry, enables them to remain apneic for several minutes in the presence of high concentrations of CO2. This makes water bath stunning the most effective solution, since gas stunning does not cause the loss of consciousness of all the animals of the same batch within a certain period.
With this new position paper, Euro Foie Gras reaffirms its constructive spirit a few months before the publication, by the European Commission, of the legislative proposals on animal welfare.
Another successful encounter of the Circle of Foie Gras Friends
A new edition of the Circle of Foie Gras Friends cocktail was held on 21 March at the Representation of the New-Aquitaine Region in Brussels. About 60 MEPs, members of the permanent and regional representations to the EU, and other friends of foie gras gathered for a moment of sharing and conviviality around this delicacy. This was an opportunity to thank two MEPs for their mobilisation in favour of our European production by awarding them the Federation’s Golden Palm.
After thanking the numerous participants for their presence at this third and last cocktail of the Circle of this mandate, Christophe Barrailh, President of Euro Foie Gras, recalled the numerous challenges that the sector will have to face in this pre-electoral year:
- The implementation of vaccination to combat avian influenza, vaccination that has just been authorised by the European Union. Nevertheless, biosecurity and monitoring measures are and will remain the pillars of the fight against avian influenza. Ensuring continued exports to third countries will also be a major challenge.
- The adoption of legislative proposals on animal welfare in autumn 2023. Recalling that the sector has always been in a ‘constructive’ mindset, Mr Barrailh also warned the European Commission “against any unreasonable proposal that would have dramatic consequences for our extensive, mostly free-range and family farming system”.
- The revision of the European marketing standards for poultry, including foie gras, for which Euro Foie Gras calls on the European institutions to maintain the status quo in order to allow our product to retain its excellence and for consumers to be properly informed.
The Federation also awarded the Golden Palm to two MEPs who are members of the Circle and who have particularly distinguished themselves by their constant commitment to the European production of foie gras: Ms Sander and Mr Zoido. Both great lovers of European gastronomy, they have always supported our sector with strength and conviction both on the subject of animal welfare and marketing standards.
Euro Foie Gras also had the pleasure to induct two new MEPs from Spain and to thank the MEPs already members of the Circle. Exchanges were friendly around delicious and multiple preparations based on fat palmipeds. This was the last opportunity to meet during this term of the European Parliament before the European elections of 2024. The appointment has already been made for a new cocktail in 2025!
European Livestock Voice : for the preservation and promotion of the multiple benefits of livestock farming
Euro Foie Gras is one of the members of the European Livestock Voice (ELV), a group that brings together European organizations active in the European livestock sector. In the face of unfounded criticism and misinformation, the objective of the ELV is to bring back a balanced debate on the European scene around this essential sector. Livestock is crucial in terms of food security, the preservation of Europe’s rich agricultural and culinary heritage, but also in economic, social and environmental terms.
The ELV wrote in an article: “Today livestock farming is a key part of rural Europe. Livestock is present in almost all regions of Europe in a wide variety of production systems depending on the local economic, geographical, and sociological contexts. The livestock sector contributes substantially to the European economy (168 billion euros per year, 45% of total agricultural activity), to the trade balance and creates jobs for almost 30 million people. Without cattle, the rural exodus will increase, creating additional pressure in our cities, and a greater disconnection with nature and with our cultural heritage. Land abandonment would also lead to an increased risk of forest fires in a context of global warming. »
Livestock is vital from an environmental point of view since it contributes to the regulation of ecological cycles and in particular to the fertility of the planet’s soils. With the supply of organic matter through manure as well as the existence of permanent grasslands, livestock farming contributes to the storage of carbon in the soil and therefore to the mitigation of greenhouse gases. The end of livestock farming would inevitably lead to the disappearance of grasslands that would no longer be useful. Thus, the development of fallow land replacing managed grasslands would cause a huge loss of biodiversity. It should be stressed that European permanent grasslands contain 50% of European endemic plant species. Therefore, the preservation of livestock is also crucial for the conservation of biodiversity and the protection of land in Europe.
Euro Foie Gras will continue to work in favor of preserving of European livestock farming and promoting its numerous benefits in partnership with the other member associations of the ELV.
 A world without livestock farming makes no sense from humanitarian, economic, ecological and agronomic point of view – Euractiv
Euro Foie Gras adopts common animal welfare indicators
After analysing the different good practices in place in the producing countries, Euro Foie Gras members have developed and adopted 18 common indicators of animal welfare.
Covering the rearing and fattening phases, they are indicators of means that allow farmers to adopt the means required to ensure a high level of animal welfare. They are articulated and aligned with the five freedoms, which are the guiding principles for the work of the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). Widely recognised, these five freedoms describe society’s expectations for the conditions animals should experience when they are under human care.
The 18 indicators also serve to ensure that European farmers are properly implementing EU legislation, and in some cases, they even go beyond. Some of them are adapted during the containment period required by EU legislation in the event of a risk of avian influenza.
These indicators include for example:
- the placing of drinking troughs that meet the needs of fat palmipeds to have permanent access to quality water and to be able to wet their heads at a minimum, being eminently aquatic birds;
- daily monitoring of the animals, carried out by the farmer or by competent staff, and up to twice a day during the fattening phase;
- the installation of natural areas (trees, hedges and bushes) and/or artificial ones (tunnels, buildings) that provide shelter from draughts, excess sun or rain, thus avoiding thermic stress;
- the installation of a dedicated area for the isolation of weakened animals with water and feed available at each production unit;
- Access to open air area during the rearing phase and the setting of maximum animal densities during the fattening phase.
Euro Foie Gras has always worked and will continue to work so that fat palmipeds are reared in optimal conditions by fully ensuring their well-being while meeting requirements related to sanitary aspects and offering satisfactory working conditions to breeders. This ambitious work which ended with the adoption of the 18 indicators shows once again that the foie gras sector has been engaged, since its creation, in a process of progress and constant improvement of breeding practices based on the most recent scientific data.
Learn more about the 18 indicators by reading our position paper and its annex.
European Citizens’ Initiative: Protecting the EU’s rural heritage, food security and supply
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Protecting the EU’s rural heritage, food security and supply” was launched on 2 November. The initiative has the following objectives:
- Valuing cultural heritage,
- Preserving and promoting European agriculture, rural territories and regional heritages,
- Maintaining food security,
- Promoting investment and rising living standards in rural areas.
To oblige the European Commission to respond (positively or negatively), this citizens’ initiative must reach, within one year, 1 million signatures of European citizens from at least 7 Member States.
Euro Foie Gras calls on MEPs, stakeholders and European citizens to support this ECI.
Robust marketing standards for effective consumer protection
On Monday 24 October, Euro Foie Gras held its Board meeting in Brussels. Members from Hungary, Spain, France, Belgium and Bulgaria had the pleasure to meet and exchange on the latest news of the European political agenda.
Euro Foie Gras members discussed the subject of marketing standards for agricultural products, which are currently under review. Euro Foie Gras strongly supports the maintenance of the definition of raw foie gras and calls for the addition of a definition for processed foie gras. “As foie gras is a traditional gastronomic product with a high value, robust marketing standards are essential to ensure the quality of the product and to protect consumers against fraudulent practices” said Christophe Barrailh, President of Euro Foie Gras.
In addition, the Federation adopted a position paper with eighteen common indicators of animal welfare, which demonstrates the constant efforts and commitments of European fat palmiped farmers in this area. The members also welcomed the European Commission’s reminder, in its fitness check of the European legislation on animal welfare, of the legality of foie gras production and the obligation for Member States to maintain its marketing. As highlighted by the Commission in the same document, Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) lays down that the “ customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage” must be respected.
In addition, the latest outbreaks of avian influenza have had a severe impact on the sector, affecting breeding stock in particular. For this reason, members reaffirmed that vaccination remains an essential and complementary measure to the biosecurity measures in place. Nevertheless, the introduction of such a measure in Europe should not harm exports.
Finally, the members reported on the various farm visits organised with European policy makers. “We are delighted that the policy makers took the time to visit our farms, as well as with their positive feedback” added Christophe Barrailh.
Vaccinating against avian influenza: Euro Foie Gras supports the European Commission in this direction and calls for maintaining export possibilities
Euro Foie Gras welcomes the decision of the European Commission to address the issue of vaccination of animals and in particular poultry within the European Union (EU). The Commission is about to adopt a delegated act aiming at defining the conditions of use of veterinary medicines and vaccines, in particular against avian influenza. Euro Foie Gras contributed to the public consultation in view of the adoption of this delegated act in order to highlight the issues and concerns of the sector.
The European poultry sector, including fat palmipeds (ducks and geese), has suffered from recurrent outbreaks of avian influenza over the past five years, with serious economic repercussions across the EU. In response to successive outbreaks, fat palmiped breeders have invested heavily and put in place strict biosecurity and surveillance rules to prevent and control avian influenza and to limit the risk of future spread, such as sheltering animals or reducing stocking densities.
However, despite the many efforts made by farmers in terms of biosecurity, avian influenza has not been eradicated. For this reason, Euro Foie Gras considers that vaccination represents an indispensable complementary tool for the prevention and control of this animal disease, in addition to the biosecurity measures already implemented. Furthermore, the protection of breeding flocks through vaccination is becoming a survival issue for this outstanding sector.
However, it is essential that this new tool does not threaten export opportunities for foie gras to third countries. Therefore, Euro Foie Gras has asked the European Commission to quickly discuss with the EU’s trading partners to ensure that the vaccine approach is accepted and does not hinder trade. Finally, it should be ensured that all trading partners respect the rules of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) which do not foresee trade restrictions when a State decides to vaccinate.
Getting to know a sector before taking a stand: MEPs visit a foie gras farm
On Tuesday, Valérie Van Wyzenberghe opened the doors of her family foie gras farm to three Swedish, Hungarian and Belgian Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
Willing to have first-hand experience in order to make informed decisions on the sector, they discovered the different stages of the virtuous foie gras production: from the arrival of the one-day-old ducklings to the ducks raised in the tree-filled open-air runs, then fattened before being slaughtered on the farm. The processing and sales are also done on site, offering delicious local quality products to Belgian consumers.
Euro Foie Gras would like to thank the MEPs for their curiosity and interest in learning about the know-how and best practices of European foie gras producers. We were delighted to offer them an immersive experience. There is no better way of discovering the production!
Convinced that farm visits help to raise awareness about their profession, foie gras producers will continue on the path of transparency and dialogue.
Discovery, pedagogy and rurality: immersion in Wallonia’s foie gras farms
Curious about where your food comes from? Want to dive into the daily reality of farming? Or do you feel like showing your support to farmers and agricultural producers?
Find what you are looking for during the Walloon Open Farm Days of 25 and 26 June!
Nearly 60 farms from all over the Walloon region will welcome you in their premises and give you the opportunity to experience farming life first hand!
Once again, both the Louis Legrand farm and the Sauvenière farm will participate in this event.
The Louis Legrand farm located in Templeuve, near the city of Tournai, is specialised in duck breeding, notably for the production of foie gras, and in the cultivation of traditional crops such as maize and wheat.
Also specialised in ducks for the production of foie gras, the Sauvenière Farm is located in the village of Hemptinne-lez-Florennes, in the province of Hainaut. There, you will find various other home-made and local products derived from duck farming such as cassoulet or foie gras stuffed quails.
Your visit at these farms will give the whole family the chance to discover, enjoy and relax around experienced and passionate farm professionals.
Discover the history of the farms, the breeding of ducks and the processing facilities. You’ll also be able to witness the practice of assisted feeding.
Enjoy tasting experience and catering with products directly from the farm (foie gras, confit, cassoulet, local drinks …).
And finally, relax around family friendly activities such as animal feeding, carriage rides, wooden games and even a bouncy castle!
The Sauvenière and Louis Legrand farms are well known for their attention to open air and great animal welfare, fundamental characteristics of foie gras production.
You will find out that fat palmipeds breeders wear many different hats: farmer, artisan, processor, seller, etc.
Do not hesitate to enter one of these farms this weekend!
Vaccination: an essential tool in the fight against avian influenza, while continuing to export
Following the success of the Circle of Foie Gras Friends, representatives of the sector met for their General Assembly. They were delighted by the presence of many MEPs at the Circle, from both producing and consuming countries, demonstrating the strong political support for the product and the breeders.
The members of Euro Foie Gras also discussed the avian influenza epidemic that has been raging in Europe for several months and which is affecting the entire poultry sector. “Vaccinate and export” is the sector’s position on the subject. Vaccination will not be a panacea but an essential tool that will complement the biosecurity and surveillance measures that are and will remain the pillars of the fight against avian influenza.
In addition, the Federation is already successfully completing the first year of its European promotion campaign. Training in culinary schools and points of sale, videos of farmers to showcase their production, publication of recipes, etc. Many actions have been carried out to make foie gras better known to citizens, salespeople and apprentice cooks in producing countries.
The members also mentioned the progress made by the animal welfare sub-group, gathering representatives of the sector, which is developing common animal welfare indicators. These demonstrate the proactivity of the sector in effectively following all EU animal welfare rules, and in some cases even going beyond them.
Working together within Euro Foie Gras is crucial in order to exchange on the challenges to be faced, to bring collective answers and to unite its voice to promote an extensive, essentially outdoor and family-based sector that contributes to the diversity of European gastronomy.