A petition with over 100,000 names calling for an end to imports of foie gras into the UK following Brexit was delivered to the Prime Minister on Tuesday.
Animal advocate and actor Peter Egan handed over the petition, which was also backed by other leading celebrities, at number 10 Downing Street.
The campaign – which has received support from actors Thandie Newton, Dev Patel, Joanna Lumley and Evanna Lynch, plus comedian Ricky Gervais and naturalists Chris Packham and Bill Oddie – was devised by Animal Equality, the international animal protection organisation.
Dr Toni Shephard, the organisation’s UK Executive Director, joined Peter Egan in delivering the petition.
Foie gras is hugely controversial due to the methods in which ducks and geese are force fed grotesque amounts of food to make their livers fatty and engorged. It’s illegal in the UK due to the cruelty behind its production, but it’s still allowed to be sold in shops and restaurants under EU law.
Over 200 tonnes of foie gras is imported into Britain every year, and is stocked by stores including Fortnum & Mason and Harrods.
Peter Egan, famous for his role in hit TV show Downton Abbey, commented:
“The cruel and horrible way foie gras is produced by literally stuffing a poor duck or goose with grain until its liver becomes diseased and swells to bursting is disgusting to contemplate. We banned its production in the UK because it’s cruel. Now let’s ban the importation of this cruel product. Make the UK foie gras free!”
Animal Equality has carried out undercover investigations into the suffering of ducks and geese on foie gras farms across Spain and France.
They found birds in cramped living conditions unable to carry out natural behaviours, with painful sores on their feet from wire floors and faeces, as well as animals with painful injuries that go untreated and dead birds left in cages. The animals’ livers swell to around 10 times their natural size, leading to excruciating pain.
Dr Toni Shephard added:
“Leaving the EU gives us a unique opportunity to rid Britain of this extraordinarily cruel product. Our national laws rightly declare foie gras production too inhumane to take place on our shores, yet we still allow it to be imported and sold. For the sake of the thousands of ducks and geese still suffering on European foie gras farms, this hypocrisy has got to end.”
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