Bay Area Chain Gives Foie Gras the Boot


Andronico's Markets president and chief executive Bill Andronico  said today that his eight-store grocery chain has completely stopped selling  foie gras, which is the fattened liver of ducks and geese.
In a phone interview, Andronico said the decision to halt such  sales was "a no-brainer" because he believes that ducks and geese are treated  inhumanely in the preparation of the delicacy, which some say dates back to  ancient Egypt 45 centuries ago.

He said the production of foie gras doesn't meet Andronico's  commitment to animal welfare, saying the treatment of animals is "an area of  importance" to the grocery chain.

Andronico said the chain had already stopped most sales of foie  gras at least three years ago but until last week had still accepted special  orders at some stores.

Andronico's, which was founded in Berkeley 80 years ago and is now  based in Albany, has four stores in Berkeley and one in San Francisco, Palo  Alto, Los Altos and San Anselmo.

Andronico said the chain started selling foie gras in the 1980s  and initially sold it in cans. It later also sold the product in  vacuum-sealed packages, he said.

Andronico said the chain has only sold about one package of foie  gras a year for the past several years, so imposing the total ban "is almost  a non-event" in terms of sales.

Christina Tacoronti, the campaigns coordinator for the Animal  Protection and Rescue League, said, "We are happy that Andronico's Markets is  making the compassionate decision to no longer sell this product of extreme  animal cruelty."

Tacoronti said ducks have been force-fed to the point of organ  rupture and death during the production of foie gras.

She said, "The only way to make foie gras is by force-feeding the  ducks to enlarge their livers to more than 10 times their normal size,  resulting in difficulty walking and breathing and causing immense pain and  suffering."

The state Legislature has banned the sale or production of foie  gras in California effective in 2012 and the cities of San Francisco,  Berkeley, West Hollywood, Solana Beach and San Diego have recently passed  resolutions in support of the ban.

Tacoronti said the Whole Foods grocery chain also refuses to carry  foie gras.

In addition, she said many Bay Area restaurants have removed the  controversial dish from their menus, including restaurants owned by Wolfgang  Puck and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's Plumpjack Group.

Foie gras producers say that in the wild, ducks and geese gorge  themselves prior to migration in order to temporarily store fat in their  liver and skin, which they use for energy during migration.

They say the managed feeding in foie gras production utilizes the  duck's physiological capacity to transform the excess feed into fat and store  it in the liver and skin.

Producers say each feeding takes only a few seconds and isn't  harmful.

Andronico said he hasn't received many complaints from customers  since the chain stopped most of its foie gras sales three years ago, but  said, "We got one complaint from someone today ... who threatened not to stop  at our stores anymore."

He added, "Our customers don't ask for it on a regular basis."

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