Brussels, 31 October 2019 – The European Federation of Foie Gras – Euro Foie Gras – deplores the ban on the sale of foie gras voted on Wednesday, 30th of October by the New York City Council. This law will affect from 2022 onwards all stores and restaurants in New York City that sell foie gras.
This measure is totally unjustified: foie gras originates from healthy waterfowl, which spend 90% of their life outdoors before the fattening phase which lasts between 10 and 14 days, with two meals per day. Contrary to the allegations of the anti-foie gras lobby, foie gras production respects animal welfare. Migratory birds naturally stock fat in their livers and the fattening of geese and ducks is a mere reproduction of this natural, non-pathological, and totally reversible physiological ability. Indeed, offering quality living conditions to their animals is a daily concern for any waterfowl farmer. This is essential for the animals and a prerequisite to obtain a quality product. The compatibility of the fattening phase with animal welfare has been proven by scientific studies.[1] This reality is constantly ignored by those who misinform the general public by leading them into an anthropomorphic perception of the animal who, although sentient, remains nonetheless different from a human being.

This ban is also a restriction of freedom for passionate cooks and consumers in New York and it poses an existential threat to local duck farms, who employ hundreds of workers in the State of New York. Before the vote, not a single member of the City Council has accepted the invitation from foie gras producers to visit a foie gras farm, so as to find out by themselves the reality of the production. Due to this lack of contact with the true situation on the ground, the decided ban was clearly based on misconceptions and slogans, rather than on facts. This is clearly shown by the sloppy definition of the term “force-feeding” in the prohibition text.

For Christophe Barrailh, President of Euro Foie Gras, “it is scandalous that the marketing of this exceptional gastronomic and healthy product is prohibited, especially in the so-called country of the Free.”

Euro Foie Gras wishes to express its solidarity with New York’s foie gras producers, stores and restaurants facing this irrational decision. The Federation will continue to defend the right of consumers from Europe and across the Atlantic to enjoy foie gras in an era of continuous bashing of animal breeders and misinformation about their activities without taking into consideration their important contribution to food security, food safety and cultural heritage.

[1] Among others:

  • Z. Erisir & al. 2009, “Effect of different housing systems on growth and welfare of Pekin ducks”, Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances 8(2).
  • MS Dawkins, 2012, “Commercial scale research and assessment of poultry welfare”, British Poultry
  • Science.E. Baeza, « La stéatose hépatique des palmipèdes », INRA Prod. Anim, 2013, 26 (5), 403-414.
  • W. Molee, « Facteurs de variation de la composition lipidique des membranes plasmiques des hépatocytes chez les palmipèdes : relation avec le rendement technologique des foies gras », S.E.V.A.B., 2006.
  • E Baéza & al., 2005, “Canards de Barbarie, Pékin et leurs hybrides: aptitude à l’engraissement”, INRA Productions.
  • P. Chartrin & al.,2004, « Effet du génotype et du gavage sur les dépôts de lipides intramusculaires dans le filet de canard », Viandes et Produits Carnés, Hors-série des 10e Journées des Sciences du Muscle et Technologies des Viandes.



Opinion piece by Prof. Frédéric Leroy

Brussels, 16 October 2019 – Although we are surrounded by an overwhelming abundance and variety of foods, the simple daily act of eating remains a problematic struggle. In a highly normative society, we are continuously being reminded of our poor eating habits. The animal/plant divide in dietary preconceptions seems to be an important part of the mindset, suggesting a cultural rather than a factual perspective on eating right. Whilst the Western diet is clearly causing havoc and undermining public health, even the dietary guidelines usually put a disproportionate emphasis on the need to reduce the consumption of red meat and the products derived thereof. This is remarkable, to say the least, as red meat is a valuable nutrient-dense food and a key component of our evolutionary diets. It has been consumed since the origin of our genus, sometimes in formidable amounts. By 1.5 million years ago, we became largely adapted to meat eating, both anatomically and physiologically, and could not have survived without it.

This opinion piece is authored by Prof. Dr. ir. Frederic LEROY,
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

>>> Read the full opinion piece

23/09/2019

Euro Foie Gras is proud to be a part of the European Livestock Voice initiative that was launched today in the European Parliament. Please find below the official press release for the event !

PRESS RELEASE

The livestock sector is today at the epicentre of public debates in Europe and beyond. These debates are now mainly dominated by interest groups who spread myths and radical views about livestock farming. Ever increasing on social media and in the press, these myths and opinions end up portraying a picture that is in stark contrast with the reality experienced and lived every day by thousands of European farmers and professionals on the ground. These debates have strong impacts on the views of European consumers on the role of animal products in their lifestyle choices and they push the livestock sector into an extremely defensive corner of society. This negatively affects the EU livestock farming model and policy framework, increasing the challenges faced by our farming communities to ensure their economic viability, generational renewal and their capacity to adapt to societal and environmental demands.

In this context, and for the first time at EU level, over a dozen livestock organisations have decided to come together to take joint action to elevate the “other side” of the story, necessary to restore balance and factual information on both the impact and the contribution of the European livestock sector. With this objective in mind, European Livestock Voice has developed its own information hub, an online portal reviewing the accuracy of the most frequently made statements about livestock production, consumption and its benefits:

NO – 1kg of beef does not require 15,000L of drinking water to be produced

YES – The average size for livestock farms in Europe is below 50 hectares and Europe remains a model of  family farming

NO – Using land for animal feed does not necessarily compete with land for human food

YES – European farmers care for their animals as it is fully in their interest to do so.

We are convinced that the EU livestock farming model, based on diversified, local and family farm structures, is the backbone of the EU’s rural areas. It supports a great number of jobs and industries, it contributes to the circular approach within the EU bioeconomy, while also ensuring a steady and affordable supply for sufficient, safe and nutritious food, as well as many other products and by-products, needed for a healthy lifestyle or Europe’s cultural and creative industries.

Removing livestock farming from Europe –  a “Livestock Exit” – would have severe consequences. Europe without livestock would lose essential pasture lands, face increased forest fires, lack greatly in organic fertilisers, green energy and many other essential raw materials while contributing to an increased rural exodus. At the same time, it would mean the need to rely on imports for animal products, with virtually no control over the production standards and increasing the demand for fossil fuel-based materials.

To support the launch of this initiative two newly appointed MEPs, also livestock farmers, Alexander Bernhuber (EPP, AT) and Jeremy Decerle (Renew Europe, FR) have decided to lead the debate in the new European Parliament by hosting the launch event of our platform today in Brussels.

For MEP Alexander Bernhuber the situation is clear “Today’s debate about livestock farming is often held on a lack of knowledge within the society. The gap between consumers and producers is getting bigger and bigger. European farmers produce at worldwide highest animal welfare standards. Nowadays the challenge is to communicate the essential work of our farmers via several channels to the consumer. European Livestock Voice created a significant platform to brighten this issue and fight against disinformation at European level. It is important to spread fact-based knowledge about today’s livestock farming within the media. Hence, I strongly support this initiative.

On his side, MEP Jérémy Decerle commenting on the initiative said that “As a breeder of Charolais cows, but also as a Member of the European Parliament (COM AGRI), I can only welcome the launch of such a European platform, specifically dedicated to livestock farming. It could help to dispel some preconceived ideas about this profession and bring a little pragmatism into the debates. At a time when Europeans want to eat healthier and more local food, but also to better preserve their environment, farmers can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, and the search for solutions begins with a comprehensive and rational look at the situation.

MEP Clara Eugenia Aguilera García on her side commented “This initiative is a positive signal helping us in the European Parliament in our work to defend the EU livestock sector. The European livestock community works hard to ensure quality, sustainability and animal health and welfare. It has to be recognized while keeping a level playing field.  Given the ever-increasing number of misconceptions, more work is needed to restore a constructive and rational discussion around a sector so important to our rural areas, our environment and our future.” 

In Bekegem, West Flanders, the 6th edition of the traditional party organized by the largest foie gras farm in Belgium attracted crowds last August.

This foie gras celebration takes place every Friday of August in the farm. Guests enjoy a variety of dishes featuring foie gras in a bucolic setting and a relaxed weekend atmosphere, facilitated by a keen trio of violinists. Visitors enjoyed a carriage ride to admire ducks while enjoying various specialties concocted by different Chefs on the spot. Chef Edwin Vinke particularly delighted the guests with his recipe perfectly marrying langoustines and terrine of foie gras while the food truck delighted all lovers of grilled foie gras, smoked foie gras salads and desserts.

Filip Callemeyn, owner of the farm, is delighted every year to gather a wide public around foie gras: “The first party was organized to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the farm. The success of this party encouraged us to bring it back every year. ” Every summer, the “farm party” brings together around 500 guests delighted to enjoy foie gras in all its forms.

Enjoy this summer with a delicious recipe of duck breast (“magret”)on plancha accompanied by a salad of quinoa and raw vegetables! The recipe is easy and requires a preparation time of only 30 minutes. Start cooking and bon appétit!

Ingredients (4 people) :

  • 2 Duck Magrets
  • 250 g of quinoa
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 carotts
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 onions
  • 50 g roasted pine nuts
  • 50 g raisins
  • 1 small bunch of parsley
  • 2 teaspoons of five spices
  • The juice of a yellow lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pepper

Material :

  • Pan
  • Paring knife
  • Strainer
  • Plancha
  • Cutting board
  • Glass salad bowl

Preparation :

STEP 1 : Rinse the quinoa, pour it into the pan with 2 times its volume of water. Salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

STEP 2 : Peel the onions and cut into slices.

STEP 3 : Fry 6 minutes on the plancha with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the five spices.

STEP 4 : Peel the carrots and cut them into small cubes. Cut the zucchini and pepper in small cubes.

STEP 5 : In a salad bowl, add cooked quinoa, vegetable dice, spicy onions, roasted pine nuts and raisins.

STEP 6 : Season with lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix carefully and set aside.

STEP 7 : Remove the excess fat around the Duck Magrets. Incise them from the skin side in braces or squares.

STEP 8 : Heat the plancha and place the Duck Breast on the skin side underneath. Let the fat melt for about 5 minutes until the skin is golden brown. Flip the duck breast on the flesh side and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and cover the duck breast with aluminium foil and let stand for 5/7 minutes.

STEP 9 : Slice the duck breast.

STEP 10: Serve slices of duck breast with quinoa salad, sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Two days before the D-Day, France celebrated its National Day in Brussels on the occasion of a reception held in the magnificent Bozar art deco building, built by the renowned Belgian architect Victor Horta. Organised in collaboration with the Council of the New Aquitaine region, this prestigious event brought together many guests who were able to appreciate speeches delivered by the French high representatives, a musical program as well as local products. The New Aquitaine region being in the spotlight this year, South-West foie gras PGI (protected geographical indication)* was served for the pleasure of the guests’ taste buds. It was also an occasion to promote a product that is part of the French Protected Cultural and Gastronomic Heritage. “Europe must continue to support all our territories and the agricultural sector. On this national day, it is also these territories of our nation and the regions that we can celebrate,” concluded Isabelle Boudineau, Vice President of the Council of the New Aquitaine Region.

* The PGI is a European sign that guarantees the origin and quality of a product. South-West foie gras PGI (Chalosse, Gascony, Gers, Landes, Perigord, Quercy) offers the guarantee that the duck was raised and conditioned in the Southwest of France.

Each year, the Open Farm Days (Journées Fermes Ouvertes – JFO) are in Wallonia (Belgium) an opportunity for thousands of visitors, including the youngest, to discover several livestock farms. The 23rd edition of the JFO took place on June 22 and 23 with the participation of more than 70 farms, including 2 foie gras farms : the “ferme de la Sauvenière” (Hemptinne-Lez-Florennes) and the “ferme Louis Legrand” (Templeuve).

The two farms welcomed over 3,000 visitors during the weekend, including many young people : “Most of the parents came with their children. There were also a lot of young couples”, said Valérie Van Wynsberghe, foie gras producer at the “ferme de la Sauvenière”. For both farms, the JFO are an opportunity to show and explain the production of foie gras to a wide audience : outdoor farming of fat palmipeds, assisted feeding during the last 12 days of life, processing, manufacturing and sale of products on site. The public is every year very receptive : “People see our breeding, our integrated production and realize that it is good to stock up with artisans,” says Louis Legrand, from the eponymous farm. Visitors to “La Sauvenière” even had the pleasure of attending a chef’s demonstration and savoring pan-fried, cooked and half-cooked foie gras as well as duck breast. Now very familiar with the Belgian production of foie gras, many visitors have not failed to bring tasty preparations home.

Like every year, several foie gras farms will open their doors for the Open Farm Days which will take place on the 22nd and 23rd of June throughout Wallonia. Guided tours, discovery of the different production phases, discussion on the profession, tasting of good local products and fun activities will be on the program. Passionate breeders, who are proud of their know-how, will be happy to welcome you and answer your questions.

All information on: https://jfo.be/

More information about Walloon foie gras: https://www.facebook.com/FoieGrasWallon/

It was in Plovdiv, a city full of history, that the Euro Foie Gras General Assembly took place on May 20 and 21, 2019. Combining discovery of the region and important decisions for the European foie gras sector, this General Assembly was a success.

Euro Foie Gras members welcomed the record level reached in 2018 by foie gras exports from the 5 European producing countries to third countries. With a turnover of 82 million euros, European exports worldwide rose by 58% in value compared to 2018, especially to Japan. Another reason for satisfaction: in 10 years, Hungary has doubled its internal consumption and increased its exports to neighboring countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Serbia. The key figures of the sector are part of the information that can be found on the new Euro Foie Gras website. Interactive and modern, it gives information on all facets of the sector : waterfowl-based products, the different phases of production and also the numerous commitments of the Federation in terms of quality, health and animal welfare.

The General Assembly made important decisions for the sector. Euro Foie Gras members decided to collect and share forecast data for the production of fat palmipeds. This will be a very useful anticipation tool to help operators make decisions.

In addition, Euro Foie Gras members wish to work collectively, with the support of an independent research organization, on common animal welfare indicators and their regular monitoring. It may be recalled that Euro Foie Gras has had since 2011 a European Charter on breeding of waterfowl for foie gras, which sets out the commitments that must govern the production already subject to European legislation on animal welfare.

The General Assembly was punctuated by visits to a foie gras farm as well as a feather and down upgrading plant. « European voters will go to the polls in a few days. By making strong decisions in Plovdiv, the European Capital of Culture this year, we are participating in our own way in building the European Union », concluded Christophe Barrailh, President of Euro Foie Gras.

General Assembly
Visit of a foie gras farm
Visit of a feather and down upgrading plant

A must for European gastronomy, foie gras will be perfectly represented in this magnificent Bulgarian city, which is recognized for its authenticity and cultural heritage. Bulgaria is currently the 2nd largest European producer of duck foie gras with 2800 tonnes produced in 2018.

The General Assembly will be the opportunity to gather friends of foie gras to review the past year and future perspectives on various topics: European elections, health and animal welfare, communication strategy etc. A visit of the city as well as a breeding will also be organized.

This attractive program will allow participants to meet for two days around the foie gras in a cultural and friendly place, in perfect harmony with the vision of Euro Foie Gras.

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