EU marketing standards: minimum liver weights ensure the quality of foie gras
The EU Commission published a staff working document on the evaluation of marketing standards.
This document concludes that EU marketing standards have generally “been effective in achieving their intended objectives, without causing significant unintended/unexpected effects (…)”. Moreover, the document states that the cost of EU marketing standards are justifiable and proportionate to the benefits achieved, regardless of the sector.
The current EU marketing standards define raw foie gras as duck livers of at least 300gr and goose livers of at least 400gr. If this definition would be removed, the report highlights that “this would not guarantee the presence of hepatic fatty cellular hypertrophy, which is considered to be essential to the taste and quality of the product.” It adds that these minimum weights are the “only available means for the national competent authorities to control the product in a simple way.” Removing these weights criteria would thus mislead the consumer.
However, there is no definition for processed foie gras, which represents 80% of the foie gras sold. The problem is explained in the document: “A specific assessment revealed that the definition of ‘foie gras’ was perceived as having some limitations in preventing fraudulent practices, because there was no EU definition for processed foie gras (France is alone in having a national definition).”
Fraudulent practices are frequent, due to the luxury character of the product.
Therefore, in order to ensure the quality of foie gras and protect consumers, Euro Foie Gras calls for maintaining the definition of raw foie gras and adding the definition of processed foie gras.
A Spanish campaign to raise awareness about the multiple values of livestock
On the 26th of November at 12:00, the Spanish campaign #RealidadGanadera (the reality of livestock) will be launched. This campaign aims to inform the public about the social and economic value of the livestock sector in Spain, highlighted with scientific evidence. It will deconstruct preconceived ideas and fake news that can be read about livestock, one of the most demanding sectors in terms of animal welfare, environment, providing consumers with quality, healthy and safe products. Consumers need scientific, unbiased facts, which will be provided through this campaign.
A website, containing all the information on Spanish livestock, will be made available on the 26th of November: www.realidadganadera.es.
The initiative has been created by a group of agri-food organisations including Interpalm, the Spanish Interprofessional Association of Fat Palmipeds, one of Euro Foie Gras’ members. This campaign is the Spanish version of the European #MeattheFacts campaign, launched last year by a consortium of European associations, including Euro Foie Gras.
Two Walloon socialist MPs visit a foie gras farm
The Sauvenière farm, an artisanal farm nestled in the heart of the Walloon countryside, has opened its doors to Sophie Pécriaux and Eddy Fontaine, two Belgian PS MPs, to make them discover the foie gras production. The reality on the ground allows us to better understand a sector and to talk about it with full knowledge of the facts , explains Eddy Fontaine.
After seeing the ducklings, kept warm while their plumage is sufficiently plump to go outside, the MPs visited the outdoor areas. The ducks walk freely in the fields for up to 12 weeks. Valérie van Wynsberghe, who runs the family farm, explains that the welfare of the ducks is a priority: “If we want to have quality products, animals must be bred in good conditions, in a pleasant and healthy environment”.
The duck is then fattened for 12 days by trained professionals in a building close to the farm.
Eddy Fontaine stresses: “It is important to defend the sector. (…) A Walloon MP has a duty to defend all the sectors, as long as the standards are respected, which is obviously the case in Wallonia. »
The visit ended with a traditional convivial tasting of rillettes and foie gras, local and artisanal products that delight the taste buds.
Picture: on the left: Sophie Pécriaux and Eddy Fontaine; on the right: Valérie van Wynsberghe.
The competition organised by Interpalm is extended until 31 December
On 11 August, Interpalm, the Interprofessional Association of Fat Palmipeds in Spain, launched a contest for Spanish journalists and communicators. They are invited to write an article on the breeding of fat palmipeds and/or its products (foie gras, magret and confit), which will then be published in a Spanish newspaper.
The prize, worth of 1000 euros, was to be awarded to the winner during the 2nd edition of the Spanish Circle of Foie Gras Friends. However, due to the health measures related to the COVID-19 crisis, the ceremony has been postponed. The competition has therefore been extended until 31 December, giving you three more months to try your luck! Tell us about the breeding of foie gras ducks and its delicious by-products!
All the information can be found on the Interpalm website.
French foie gras farms welcome you this weekend of 19-20 September
Heritage days are the ideal time to discover the cultural and gastronomic treasures of a country. Among the essential dishes of French cuisine, we can undoubtedly mention foie gras, as well as its by-products, magret and confit.
For the first time, on the occasion of the Heritage Days in France on 19 and 20 September, around fifty farms in the main foie gras producing regions (Alsace, Brittany, New Aquitaine, Occitania and Pays de la Loire) will open their doors. You will thus be able to discover the production process of this delicacy and meet the breeders to learn more about fat palmipeds.
Guided tours, tastings, cooking classes, catering… The activities will be numerous! Take advantage of this weekend to make a detour to a farm and, at the same time, to stock up on French local products.
Find all the information on the website: https://patrimoine-foiegras.fr/
Interpalm launches a contest for communication professionals
This is a message to Spanish journalists and other communicators! Interpalm, the Interprofessional Association of Fat Palmipeds in Spain, invites you, until September 30th, to publish an article on the foie gras sector or on derived duck products in a Spanish media.
A jury will select the winner based on the originality and creativity of the publication. The winner will win 1000 euros!
Take this opportunity to showcase your writing talent and your love for Spanish gastronomy. We look forward to reading your articles!
For more information, visit the Interpalm website: http://www.elfoiegras.es/primer-concurso-periodistico-foiegrasespanol/
Spain is the fourth largest producer of duck foie gras in Europe, with a production of 592 tons in 2019, and the third largest consumer in the world, with 80g per year and per capita. The production is mainly located in the regions of Castilla y León, Navarra, the Basque Country, Catalonia and Aragon.
The obligation of minimum weights for foie gras is essential to ensure its quality and to protect consumers
The European Commission published the results of the external evaluation on food marketing standards in May 2020. This factual evaluation of current standards covered a wide range of products governed by the Common Market Organisation, including foie gras.
The document states that cases of fraudulent practices have significantly decreased since the introduction of the definition of raw foie gras with the obligation to place on the market duck livers of at least 300gr and goose livers of at least 400gr. This definition is moreover seen positively by several Member States.
Furthermore, the study indicates that abolishing the minimum liver weights “would not guarantee the presence of hepatic fatty cellular hypertrophy, which is considered to be essential to the taste and quality of the product”. The study also mentions Euro Foie Gras’ request to complete the current definition with a definition of processed foie gras, which represents 80% of foie gras products purchased by end consumers.
Attaching great importance to protecting consumers and ensuring that they make informed choices, Euro Foie Gras will continue to call for maintaining the definition of raw foie gras and adding the definition of processed foie gras. According to the action plan included in the “Farm to Fork” Strategy, the European Commission is expected to publish its proposal on the revision of food marketing standards in 2021 or 2022.
You can access the study here.
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.
An interactive map to find French foie gras producers
The coronavirus pandemic has hit foie gras producers hard. They were unable to sell their products to restaurateurs and on markets, and thus saw their sales decline drastically. In order to help the sector to overcome this crisis, the CIFOG (Comité Interprofessionnel des Palmipèdes à Foie Gras) has created a map to geolocate French foie gras producers who sell their products on farm or for delivery.
In these farms, you will find foie gras and other products from fat palmipeds such as magret, confit or rillettes. They are mainly located in five regions: Occitanie, Nouvelle Aquitaine, Pays de la Loire, Brittany and Alsace. The logos “Foie gras de France”, “Confit de France” and “Magret de France” guarantee the origin of the products.
By clicking on the producer you are interested in, you will see his name and the type of animals he breeds. The button “Learn more” will then take you to a page with more information: opening hours, contact details, specialities…
This map will help the French but also tourists passing through the Hexagon this summer to find foie gras near them. This flagship product of French gastronomy is a must-try!
Private storage aid, “Farm to Fork” Strategy, and launch of the new logo: a rich and constructive GA for Euro Foie Gras
The General Assembly of Euro Foie Gras was held by videoconference on Wednesday, May 27. It was an opportunity to exchange on many important subjects for the European fat palmipeds sector.
The quarantine measures put in place in relation to COVID-19 have significant economic consequences on the sector with declining sales. For this reason, Euro Foie Gras reiterated its request to the European Commission for private storage aid. This measure is essential both to mitigate sector’s losses and to avoid food waste.
As several important documents were published ahead of the GA, the meeting was also an opportunity to discuss them in detail. One example is the publication, on 20 May by the European Commission, of the “Farm to Fork” Strategy which aims to develop more sustainable food systems through the involvement of all actors, both private and public. Euro Foie Gras will remain a proactive and constructive player in the future debate that will take place over the coming months.
In terms of communication, Euro Foie Gras’ members made the Federation’s new logo official. More modern and legible, the yellow has been replaced by gold in order to highlight the qualitative and gastronomic aspect of foie gras, an exceptional delicacy coming from an ancestral tradition. One can also note the presence of a duck and a goose, which at a glance makes it clear that foie gras comes from these two species of fat palmipeds.
This fruitful videoconference demonstrated once again the importance of collaboration between the producing countries in order to exchange on their respective national situation and to promote the fat palmipeds sector at the European level. This collaboration must continue as much as possible despite the special circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic.