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[1]. 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 : melanie.lamaison@alienor.eu; +32 491 51 23 40

                cynthia.benites@alienor.eu; +32 490 64 97 38


[1] Scientific studies have been synthetised by the scientists Gérard Guy (INRA) and Xavier Fernandez (ENSAT) in a document written in October 2013.

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[1].

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[2].

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.


[1] Scientific studies have been synthetised by the scientists Gérard Guy (INRA) and Xavier Fernandez (ENSAT) in a document written in October 2013.

[2]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”:

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 (anais@adocom.fr). 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.

Good luck!

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Preparation

  • 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

Launched today in 7 European countries, a video appeal illustrates the Farm to Fork paradoxes which hinder the green transition.

The European livestock sector offers to share its know-how for a genuinely sustainable production system.

The European livestock sector presented today “The 9 paradoxes of Farm to Fork”, a call to actively participate in the current sustainability challenge to develop and implement an effective and adequate Farm to Fork strategy for Europe. Born from an initiative of Carni Sostenibili and European Livestock Voice, the series of videos was launched simultaneously in 7 European countries and languages: Belgium, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Poland.

The videos highlight the fact that despite good intentions, the Farm to Fork strategy does not take into consideration the actual situation and challenges of the livestock sector. They reflect the will of the whole chain to be actively involved in the great green transition process, now in progress.

The paradoxes identified reflect misconceptions and prejudices surrounding the livestock sector in terms of the environment, health and the economy. They reveal inaccuracies in the understanding of:

  • The nutritional value of meat
  • The consistency of land use for livestock farming activities
  • The environmental sustainability of the European livestock chain
  • The economic impact of the sector
  • The protection of animal welfare
  • The use of natural vs chemical fertilizers
  • Job security and employment in rural areas  
  • The gastronomic and cultural heritage of animal-source products
  • The  security and availability of our food products

The Farm to Fork strategy, at the heart  of the European Green Deal, can be an opportunity to enhance the results achieved by the European agricultural and livestock system: the challenge lies in research, innovation and technology. It is also crucial to ensure sufficient production to respond to the growing demand for food using fewer resources – says Giuseppe Pulina, President of Carni Sostenibili (Sustainable Meat) – Today, those working in the zootechnics supply chain have the duty to help decision makers not to waste the great opportunity to guide the agri-food system for more than the next 10 years” .

“Livestock has been – and still is – blamed for many evils. We may not be perfect, but it is only fair to highlight the numerous measures already taken and the substantial progress made by all in our sector. And it is still work in progress. The videos we launch today reflect the reality of livestock and aim to debunk common misconceptions, many of which unfortunately presided over the planning of the Farm to Fork strategy. It is crucial to make our voice heard, because we want to be part of

the current process which will determine the future, and because we wish to make ourselves available to share our knowledge and experience with policy-makers, during the ongoing discussions on F2F” said Birthe Steenberg, Secretary General of AVEC (Poultry meat sector), speaking in the name of European Livestock Voice.

The full version video is available and embeddable for publication at the following link.

If you are interested in this issue, join us on 5 May for a follow-up debate with expert speakers from all sides of the spectrum. More to come from @LivestockVoice on Twitter.

Euro Foie Gras is glad to take part in the European Livestock Voice’s work to support telling the truth on the sector.

A European Livestock Voice and Carni Sostenibili communication.

The Board meeting of Euro Foie Gras (EFG) took place on March 4. It was an opportunity to address the various topics of current interest for the fat palmipeds sector at the European level and in the member states.

On the sanitary front, the situation has stabilised in France and the CIFOG (French Foie Gras Interbranch Organisation) is mobilised to analyse the reasons for the virulent episode of avian influenza that has hit the sector in recent weeks. On the economic front, the lack of certainty regarding the reopening of the Horeca sector (restaurants, bars, hotels, etc.) makes the outlook for 2021 difficult to establish.

On a more positive note, the Federation is looking forward to starting its European promotion programme, which was approved at the end of last year by the European Commission. This programme will make it possible to promote foie gras, an iconic and local product, in several producing countries: France, Belgium, Spain and Hungary.

In addition, EFG reiterated the importance of asserting its position regarding EU marketing standards for agricultural products: maintaining the definition of raw foie gras and adding a definition of processed foie gras. The Federation had participated in the European Commission’s first consultation on this subject on February 15 and will participate in the second one, which should take place in the second quarter.

Finally, EFG members reiterated their willingness to continue the joint work begun a few months ago to develop European animal welfare indicators, work that complements initiatives at national level. It is important that this topic moves away from the purely emotional to a scientifically sound basis for objectively assessing animal breeding conditions. The Federation will continue to contribute to the ongoing debate at the European level by drawing on the latest scientific data and by inviting anyone interested to visit a foie gras farm.

Euro Foie Gras has contributed to the European Commission’s public consultation on marketing standards for agricultural products.

In this contribution Euro Foie Gras states that it fully shares the European Commission’s view that “Marketing standards help facilitate the functioning of the internal market, keep food of unsatisfactory quality off the market, provide relevant information to consumers, and ensure a level playing field for competing products.” Euro Foie Gras also insists on the key role played by marketing standards in preserving and promoting the European agricultural know-how, the culinary heritage as well as the diversity of the agricultural types of farming.

The Federation supports the European Commission’s willingness to provide better food information to consumers and to support sustainable food systems. Moreover, citizens’ freedom to choose the food they want to eat should be preserved and each consumer should be able to make informed choices without being victims of misleading and fraudulent practices.

That is why, Euro Foie Gras calls for:

• Maintaining the definition of raw foie gras in its current wording;

• Completing this text with the insertion of the definition of processed foie gras.


Read our full contribution

Read our position paper on marketing standards

European Livestock Voice, a multi-stakeholder group promoting science-based facts on livestock, organised a webinar on animal welfare labelling on 28 January 2021.

Speakers with different backgrounds took the word on this hot topic. Here are some important points:

Trine Vig Tamstorf, Chief policy advisor for animal health and welfare for the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, firstly highlighted that farmers care about their animals, and consider animal welfare as an absolute priority. She underlined that establishing a labelling only focused on animal welfare is too narrow. The scope should be broadened by including other aspects such as environment because animal welfare is just one element of sustainability.

This important aspect was also stressed by Denis Simonin, Senior Expert on animal welfare at the European Commission’s DG Health and Food Safety. He explained that one of the actions of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy is to create a sustainable food labelling framework. Aspects like environment, nutrient profiles, or animal welfare could be part of this overall framework. Moreover, a key question is how the existing and the future animal welfare labelling schemes can fit together. He evoked two different options: existing schemes will be parallel schemes or existing schemes will position themselves as benchmarks.

Animal welfare will always be subject to societal ideas, he added. A scientific approach is needed but taking consumers’ and farmers’ views into consideration is also necessary.

Finally, Trine Vig Tamstorf strongly encouraged farm visits to burn the myths and let the public see the farming conditions on the ground. Euro Foie Gras is always happy to organise farm visits, as it enables to confront ideas with the reality (if the sanitary conditions allow it).

Euro Foie Gras is glad to take part in the European Livestock Voice’s work to support telling the truth on the sector.

Read the entire summary here

In case you missed it, here is the recording of the webinar:

What are European citizens’ expectations concerning their food in the future? To answer this question, the European Commission has commissioned an opinion poll, called Eurobarometer.

This report shows that the 3 main factors influencing Europeans’ food purchases are, in order, taste, food safety and cost.

Furthermore, they associate sustainable food and diet with the nutritional qualities of products and health rather than the environmental dimension. Nearly a quarter of consumers consider local and short supply chains as an important feature of sustainable food.

Moreover, healthy and sustainable food means variety and home cooking rather than less meat consumption for Europeans. For 58% of respondents, a healthy and sustainable diet involves eating a variety of different foods, having a balanced diet and eating more fruit and vegetables. 47% mentioned eating seasonal and local food and 43% chose eating more home-cooked meals. Only 35% of respondents chose to eat meat less often.

Finally, a large majority of consumers (89%) are in favour of clear labelling to help them make informed choices.

Euro Foie Gras is pleased to see that consumers favour taste, a diversified diet, local consumption and informative labels. Euro Foie Gras’ members work hard to produce quality food for the consumer. European foie gras production is extensive, open-air and often family-run. Producers are the custodians of a terroir and traditional know-how that is the pride of European gastronomy.

Find the full report and its summary here.

On 14th of October, the European Commission published an external report entitled “Future of EU livestock: how to contribute to a sustainable agricultural sector?”, written by Dr Jean-Louis Peyraud (INRAE) and Dr. Michael MacLeod (SRUC). This study contributes to the debate on the sustainability of the livestock sector. It outlines the importance of the livestock sector and the challenges it faces. Please find below a summary of this report:

Livestock farming is of crucial importance for many European regions, economically, socially and environmentally. In 2017, the value of livestock production and livestock products in the EU was equal to 170 billion euros, representing 40% of the total agricultural turnover. The EU-28 is a net exporter on the world market and the international trade surplus in livestock commodities has steadily increased since 2000, reaching 3.7 billion euros in 2019. Moreover, the sector employs around 4 million people. Poultry and pig farms are the largest farms in terms of the number of salaried positions.

A nuanced environmental impact

In 2017, the agricultural sector generated 10% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), less than industry (38%) or transport (21%). Globally, half of the agricultural land used for livestock consists of permanent grassland and marginal land that cannot be readily cultivated and are used exclusively by ruminants. Some temporary grassland could certainly be cultivated but that will lead to the loss of ecosystem services they provided.

A decrease in livestock farming in Europe would have negative environmental consequences

The idea of reducing the EU livestock production as a way of simultaneously tackling environmental and dietary issues is to be considered with caution. As a matter of fact, the global demand for livestock product is increasing and the European livestock sector is more efficient than in numerous other parts of the world. This idea may thus lead to net increases in environmental impact.

Furthermore, the net environmental impacts of reducing livestock in Europe could have negative impacts in terms of land use. Conversion of pastures to arable crops could lead to soil carbon losses and increased pesticides use, while conversion of pasture to woodland will provide benefits in terms of carbon storage, but may have negative impacts on, for example, rural vitality or wildfire risk.   

Challenges for the future

The sector faces certain challenges to ensure that Europe can meet its medium and long-term commitments. According to the report, several issues will have to be addressed in the future (2030-2050), among others:

  • Reduction of GHG emission (as agriculture and in particular livestock are partly responsible for this as they represent an important source of greenhouse gas)
  • Improvement of animal welfare
  • Improvement and enhancement of innovation in farming systems.

The Farm to Fork strategy has the potential to improve European agriculture. The main goal would be to reach a low carbon, resource efficient agri-food system that provides a wide range of environmental goods and services (such as healthy soils, biodiversity and an attractive landscape).

The study concludes that the debate about livestock should be broadened and moved away from simplistic plant vs animal or extensive vs intensive positions as livestock contributes to many of the sustainable development goals.

Consult the report

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