Ducks and geese can continue to rejoice while Cali gastronomes hang their heads in sadness. On Friday, a panel of three judges from the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld California’s ban on foie gras. The original ban took effect in July 2012, which prohibits the sale of products made from birds that have been force fed to enlarge their livers, on the grounds that the practice is inhumane. But the law was challenged earlier this summer by a coalition of duck farmers and Los Angeles restaurant owners, who filed a lawsuit against the recently implemented ban, claiming that it is “unconstitutional, vague, and interferes with federal commerce laws.”
The duck farmers argued that the law attempted to ban other products made from force-fed birds, like duck meat and down jackets. The judge decided that the farmers’ claims were false, and that the ban was solely aimed at foie gras. The Los Angeles Times reports that the panel concluded that the law applies to both “California entities and out-of-state entities and precludes sales within California of products produced by force feeding birds, regardless of where the force feeding occurred. Otherwise, California entities could obtain foie gras produced out of state and sell it in California.”
Rebellious California chefs, including Ludo Lefebvre, have decided to continue selling the fatty duck liver even though they knew their restaurants could be fined $1,000 per violation. How did Ludo do it? He served foie gras for free at his pop-up restaurant, Ludobites. Apparently, this wasn’t a breach of the law because Ludo wasn’t technically selling the delicious lobes of foie. So, it looks like rogue chefs like Lefebvre will continue selling the duck liver balloons in whatever way they can. That’s no surprise, since chefs have always been good at skirting the law.