Discover foie gras production during Open Farm Days in Wallonia
Looking for an educational and fun activity to do with your family? On 11 and 12 September, 33 Walloon farms will open their doors. Among them, the Louis Legrand farm, a family farm raising ducks for foie gras and growing traditional crops (cereals, beetroot and corn).
The owners, located in Templeuve (Tournai, Belgium), will give you the opportunity to visit their duck farm, access the production installations and even attend a demonstration of assisted feeding. You will then be able to taste the delicious dishes produced from fat palmipeds: smoked magret, duck legs confit with orange, cassoulet with duck confit, the foie gras discovery plate, etc. Fun activities will also delight children and parents alike: horse-drawn carriage ride, wooden games and bouncy castle.
The ducks of the Louis Legrand farm are raised in the open air, a fundamental characteristic of duck foie gras production, and their feed is entirely natural (cereals and corn). The farmers attach great importance to maintaining their know-how and the artisanal quality of their products, thus guaranteeing their freshness and authenticity.
Don’t hesitate to go and meet them this weekend!
More information on the Open Farm Days (in French): https://www.jfo-maquinzaine.be/
Picture: © JFO
Revision of the EU animal welfare legislation: Euro Foie Gras recalls its commitment to high standards
Euro Foie Gras contributed to the European Commission public consultation on the inception impact assessment related to the revision of the EU animal welfare legislation. The Federation recalls that foie gras is produced in full compliance with EU animal welfare standards. Furthermore, the sector follows the latest scientific data and on-farm testing to ensure a constant improvement of the breeding conditions.
Foie gras is a European traditional gastronomic and high-quality product respecting high standards of animal welfare.
The European foie gras sector responds to societal expectations: the production is extensive, outdoor, and very often family based. With 90% of the life of the animal spent outdoors, open air is a fundamental characteristic of the breeding of foie gras palmipeds.
Fat palmipeds remain in outdoor areas during 10 to 15 weeks, depending on the species, until the fattening phase. It is only during that phase that they live in collective housing and only for a limited period of time (between 9 and 12 days for ducks and 12 to 15 days for geese). This housing system meets all the requirements of the Council of Europe’s Recommendation of 22 June 1999 since it allows the animals to stand with a normal posture, flap their wings, turn around without difficulty and perform normal social interactions. The shift from the use of individual cages for the production of foie gras to collective housing, required by the above-mentioned Recommendation, represented a significant investment of more than 120 million euros for the European breeders.
Moreover, Euro Foie Gras underlined its commitment to a process of constant improvement in breeding practices by using the most up-to-date scientific data and on-farm testing. In this respect, the Federation recalled that the 1998 SCAHAW report on the welfare aspects of ducks and geese in foie gras production had a limited methodology and highly questionable recommendations. Therefore, after more than twenty years, this report cannot be cited as a reference on the welfare of fat palmipeds.
The Federation also stressed that any additional requirements on the housing systems would need to be scientifically assessed taking into account the specificities of each species and the different production stage. It is also crucial to define what a cage is, as a starting point. Furthermore, if additional EU standards are imposed on European farmers, they will have to be financially supported and a sufficient transition period will have to be adopted. Euro Foie Gras alerted that if stricter animal welfare rules were adopted while continuing to allow imports that do not meet the same standards to enter, this would inevitably harm the competitiveness of the European livestock sector which would face unfair competition from third countries. Therefore, concrete guarantees in line with WTO rules are needed to ensure a level playing field for European livestock farmers.
Maintaining the definition of raw foie gras in the marketing standards is essential
The European Foie Gras Federation contributed to the European Commission’s public consultation on the revision of marketing standards for agricultural products.
In its contribution, Euro Foie Gras reaffirms the need of maintaining the definition of raw foie gras in the European marketing standards. Indeed, the minimum weight of livers – 300g for ducks and 400g for geese – ensures the authenticity and quality of the product. Below these weights, the liver cells are too small and therefore insufficiently fattened. It is thus essential to maintain this weight requirement, in particular to guarantee the accuracy of the information given to consumers so that they can make informed choices and to protect an authentic production method and a prestigious product against any fraudulent practices.
Furthermore, the Federation deplores that there is still no definition of processed foie gras. This product represents 80% of foie gras sales. Without a clear text, consumers risk buying a product that does not have the same intrinsic characteristics as foie gras and that does not meet their expectations in terms of quality and taste. Euro Foie Gras therefore calls for the integration of the definition of processed foie gras in the future legislative proposal on marketing standards.
This proposal from the European Commission is expected in 2022 after the completion of the impact assessment.
Picture: © CIFOG/ADOCOM RP
EU Promotion Policy: EFG strongly opposed to an exclusion of meat products
Euro Foie Gras responded to the European Commission’s consultation on the review of the European promotion policy for farm and food products. The Federation was keen to stress the essential role of agricultural products (including meat products) in a balanced diet, and therefore the importance of maintaining them in the promotion policy.
It is essential to bear in mind that the promotion policy already contributes to food sustainability through the high sustainability standards of European products, in particular with regards to environmental sustainability and animal welfare.
Furthermore, the assessment of the sustainability of a product must take into account all its different aspects (the social, environmental and economic pillars). For example, fat palmipeds breeders guarantee optimal farming conditions that ensure a good balance between the different components of sustainability (animal welfare, animal health, environment, farmer’s welfare, etc.).
Moreover, we would like to stress that the healthiness of a food product depends on the way it is consumed and incorporated into an overall diet. In this sense, all agricultural products, consumed in adequate quantities, play a key role in a balanced diet.
For all these reasons, we strongly insist that all agricultural products should be included and their promotion should go hand in hand with the promotion of a healthy, diversified and balanced diet.
We are therefore strongly opposed to any reduction in support for or exclusion of meat products. Meat products have been and continue to be an important food source providing a wide range of valuable nutrients that can be easily absorbed by our bodies. Some nutrients found in these products are not always readily available from plant-based foods.
Finally, if the Commission stopped promoting certain EU products such as meat products, consumers would switch to similar products from third countries with considerably lower standards. This would indirectly promote less sustainable production.
Picture: © CIFOG/ADOCOM RP / Ph Asset
Commission Communication on the ECI “End the Cage Age”: many questions remain
Euro Foie Gras takes note of the publication of the European Commission communication on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “End the Cage Age”. This communication, calling for the phasing out of cages for farm animals under certain conditions, raises many questions within the Federation.
First of all, the European Commission is making a strong political commitment without even defining the central term: the cage. How can such a decision be applied in the future without understanding exactly what it refers to?
Secondly, this communication was published without any prior impact assessment. This will be carried out a posteriori, and therefore after the political commitment. An upstream evaluation would have been desirable in order to better understand the impact of such a decision, which will have major consequences for many agricultural sectors.
Furthermore, the Commission announced support measures that will be granted to farmers to help them through the transition. Euro Foie Gras considers that these measures are not sufficient in view of the future repercussions for the livestock sector. Moreover, not all sectors such as poultry farming are eligible to benefit from CAP aids. In addition, some of them risk not being supported equally by their national authorities (via the 2nd pillar of the CAP for example), which would create an imbalance on the European internal market.
Finally, Euro Foie Gras has noted the Commission’s ideas in order to avoid unfair competition from third countries and to promote our European products. However, the Federation deplores the fact that, in the face of a strong political commitment, no guarantees are given to breeders regarding cheaper imported products. The obvious risk of abolishing cages is an increase in the cost of products to support the necessary adaptations. The majority of consumers could then turn to cheaper products imported from third countries, which do not follow the same animal welfare standards.
The Federation recalls that fat palmipeds are reared for 90% of their lives in outdoor areas with access to open-air runs. The animals spend only 10 days in collective housing during the last phase of rearing: assisted feeding. 120 million euros were invested to replace individual housing by collective housing systems that comply with the recommendations of the Council of Europe of 22 June 1999 (possibility for the palmipeds to flap their wings, to make normal preening movements, to turn around without difficulty…).
Euro Foie Gras remains constructive and calls on the European institutions to involve the different agricultural sectors as much as possible, including the foie gras sector, in the discussion on this subject.
Picture: © CIFOG
Euro Foie Gras GA: The sector highlights its openness and transparency to counter prejudices
On Thursday 18 June, Euro Foie Gras held its General Assembly online.
Christophe Barrailh, President of the Federation, first touched upon the European Parliament’s vote calling on the Commission to ban force-feeding, describing it as “surprising and shocking“. Indeed, the vote on this amendment, which took place in the context of the adoption of the parliamentary resolution on the European citizens’ Initiative “End the Cage Age”, was not only out of context, but also took place without consulting the various stakeholders involved in this topic. Christophe Barrailh stressed that “it is essential to remember that foie gras cannot be produced without assisted feeding. To date, there is no credible alternative.” The Federation is more determined than ever to continue on the path of transparency and to invite political decision-makers to visit a foie gras farm to better understand the sector.
Euro Foie Gras will also bring the sector to the citizens’ attention through the European promotion programme. In this context, the Federation is looking forward to launching its campaign website “On the road to foie gras” this summer. It will follow the adventures of bloggers and influencers who will meet foie gras producers in 4 European countries (Spain, France, Belgium and Hungary) in order to share this traditional know-how.
Finally, the Federation will continue its work to develop European animal welfare indicators. This topic, essential for foie gras producers, remains at the heart of their concerns.
Euro Foie Gras denounces European Parliament’s call to ban force-feeding: a vote out of scope, with a total absence of debate
Brussels, 11 June 2021 – The European Federation of Foie Gras (Euro Foie Gras) is shocked by the vote in the European Parliament calling on the European Commission to ban force-feeding for the production of foie gras. This amendment, which is not legally binding, has been adopted without any debate and shows a total misconception of the sector. Foie gras production is part of the European gastronomic heritage and follows all EU animal welfare and health regulations.
On 10 June, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) adopted a resolution on the European Citizens’ Initiative “End the Cage Age”. During this vote, a completely out of scope amendment calling on the European Commission to come up with a proposal to ban the force-feeding of ducks and geese for the production of foie gras, was adopted.
Euro Foie Gras is dismayed that such an amendment was voted with a total absence of debate. This vote is the result of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the sector which leads to misconceptions and prejudices fed bywrong stereotypes from animalist activists.
Christophe Barrailh, President of Euro Foie Gras, speaks out: “How can we vote on an amendment which could put an end to a sector without any consultation? A debate is more than necessary, given what is at stake. EU decision-makers should not forget, while discussing this question, the men and women working hard every day to produce this exceptional dish.”
As of today, there are no alternatives to force-feeding which means that, if such an amendment entered into force, it would stop the sector overnight. This would result in the loss of more than 50.000 direct jobs and the disappearance of a high-quality product, which is a symbol of the finest European gastronomy. Foie gras farmers participate in the life of rural areas, economically and socially, and are an important part of many regions’ traditions.
It is worth recalling that article 13 of the TFUE states that “(…) the Union and the Member States shall, since animals are sentient beings, pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals, while respecting the legislative or administrative provisions and customs of the Member States relating in particular to religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritage.” “This second part of the article must also be respected, as foie gras production belongs to the cultural and regional European heritage,” adds Mr Barrailh.
Furthermore, the European foie gras sector meets societal expectations: the production is extensive, outdoor and often family-based. Letting ducks and geese spending 90% of their life outdoors is essential for the breeders to ensure the quality of the animals’ life and of the product.
The Federation would like to remind that the fattening of palmipeds raised for foie gras production is done by professionals trained for this specific task. It fully respects the welfare of the animals, as confirmed by several studies. Assisted feeding must be understood in light of the particular anatomy of fat palmipeds. They have an elastic oesophagus that can expand like a snake and allow them to swallow all kinds of prey such as fish or frogs. For this reason, their anatomy cannot, and should not, be compared to the human anatomy. Let’s stop anthropomorphism!
Today, Euro Foie Gras calls on European, national, regional, local decision-makers and citizens to visit a foie gras farm before taking any rushed decision on the matter. The Federation would be glad to conduct a rational and informed exchange of views on this topic.
Contact : email@example.com; +32 491 51 23 40
firstname.lastname@example.org; +32 490 64 97 38
 Scientific studies have been synthetised by the scientists Gérard Guy (INRA) and Xavier Fernandez (ENSAT) in a document written in October 2013.
Stop misinformation: A UK ban on foie gras imports would threaten consumers’ freedom
Brussels, 19 May 2021 – The European Federation of Foie Gras (Euro Foie Gras) is deeply concerned by the UK government’s plan to ban foie gras imports and trade under the Action Plan for Animal Welfare. Foie gras is a high-quality product which complies with all EU standards regarding animal health and welfare. The UK government should base its decision on scientific facts and field practice rather than on emotional opinions.
Foie gras production is not cruel. The anatomical characteristics of ducks and geese cannot be compared to humans. These animals have no glottis but an elastic oesophagus that can expand like a snake, allowing them to swallow all kinds of prey such as fish or frogs. Assisted feeding is fully adapted to the fat palmipeds’ physiology and is performed by trained professionals. As such, it does not cause any suffering to these animals, as confirmed by scientific studies.
Moreover, European foie gras producers have decided to go beyond their legal obligations by adopting a European Charter on Breeding of Waterfowl for Foie Gras.
Ensuring high quality living conditions is a daily concern for any breeders of fat palmipeds. Animals being bred outdoor 90% of their life and free-range farming is the DNA of the foie gras production and a prerequisite to obtain a quality product.
“The ban proposal clearly shows a lack of understanding of our practices. Has any UK policy maker ever been to a foie gras farm and seen the rearing conditions in practice? Euro Foie Gras is happy to invite them”, says Christophe Barrailh, Euro Foie Gras President.
Furthermore, a ban on foie gras in the UK would threaten the consumers’ freedom to choose what they want to purchase, and we believe that British citizens should be entitled to consume foie gras if they enjoy it. These developments are all the more surprising given the importance the UK attaches to these freedoms.
Consequently, Euro Foie Gras firmly condemns the current projects to ban foie gras trade and imports in the UK, which are totally unjustified from an animal welfare and an economic perspective.
For these reasons, the Federation calls upon the UK’s
government to continue importing foie gras, a traditional European gastronomic delicacy,
and to fully respect the freedom of choice of British consumers.
 Scientific studies have been synthetised by the scientists Gérard Guy (INRA) and Xavier Fernandez (ENSAT) in a document written in October 2013.
The “European Charter on breeding of waterfowl for foie gras”, signed by the representatives of all the foie gras producing countries in the EU, contains the commitments that must govern this farming activity in the spirit of the 12 principles retained in the “Welfare Quality Project”:
France/Opening of registrations for the 2021 Foie Gras Challenge: “Foie gras is festive!”
Are you between 16 and 25 years old?
Are you a student/apprentice cook in France?
Do you like cooking foie gras?
Try to win up to €2000 by participating in the Foie Gras Challenge!
This competition, organised each year by the CIFOG (Comité Interprofessionnel des Palmipèdes à Foie Gras), brings together young culinary talents around foie gras, confit or magret.
“Foie gras is festive”!
This year, the theme is based on the celebration: “Le Foie Gras est une fête!” (“Foie Gras is festive!”) and invites the candidates to put this tasty dish at the centre of the plate, as they would like to taste it when restaurants will reopen. Their recipe will have to sublimate foie gras, raw and/or semi-cooked, and convince the jury by its originality and subtle presentation.
Registration by 30 June
Candidates are invited to register before 30 June 2021 to the ADOCOM-RP agency (email@example.com). They must then submit a recipe by 20 September 2021. The six selected candidates will take part in the Foie Gras Challenge by presenting their dish to a jury in Paris.
Morsels with foie gras and asparagus mousse to celebrate spring
It is the beginning of the asparagus season! Here is a quick and easy recipe for an appetizer to enjoy this delicious vegetable, served with foie gras, of course.
Timing : 30 min | For 4 people
- Foie Gras
- 1 bunch of green asparagus
- 50 g of fresh cheese
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped chervil
- Mini-morsels for garnishing
- Fleur de sel (sea salt)
- Ground pepper
- Cook the asparagus for 15 min in a large pot of salted boiling water
- Strain completely in a towel and allow to cool
- Mix with the chervil and fresh cheese
- Fill the mini-morsels with asparagus mousse
- Add a Foie Gras shaving
- Add salt and ground pepper
Looking for other recipes with foie gras, magret or duck confit? Visit our French member CIFOG’s website! They also have recipes in English.
Recipe and picture: ©CIFOG