Pittsburgh Takes a Stand Against Animal Cruelty: Historic Legislation Bans Foie Gras Products

In a groundbreaking move in 2022, HAP presented a revolutionary idea to the Pittsburgh City Council—to become one of the pioneering cities in the country to outlaw cruel products derived from force-feeding animals, specifically targeting foie gras. Despite facing numerous obstacles, Councilperson Erika Strassburger and Councilman Bruce Kraus took the lead, resulting in the passage of this landmark legislation on December 19th, 2023, with a decisive vote of 7 – 2.

Why Foie Gras is Considered Cruel

Producing foie gras involves force-feeding male ducks or geese excessive grain and fat through tubes up to three times daily. This cruel practice, known as “gavage,” leads to severe health issues for the birds, including engorged livers, difficulty standing, stress-induced feather-plucking, and various infections. The birds endure cramped conditions, unable to groom themselves, resulting in a layer of excrement and oil on their bodies.

Female ducklings, deemed useless to the foie gras industry, face a gruesome fate—being thrown into grinders while still alive. Investigations into foie gras farms expose workers force-feeding hundreds of birds daily, causing injuries and suffering. Reports highlight severe health problems such as ruptured organs, maggot-infested wounds, and mortality rates up to 20 times higher than non-force-fed birds. Additionally, overcrowded sheds, rough handling, and inhumane conditions before and during force-feeding have been uncovered. Shockingly, about 15,000 ducks die annually before slaughter at a single farm, with some still moving after having their throats cut.

Photo credit: Luis Tato / HIDDEN / We Animals Media

What’s Next in the Fight Against Animal Cruelty?

While passing legislation is a significant achievement, our work has just begun. We need your help ensuring restaurants within the City of Pittsburgh comply with the new law. If you know of a restaurant currently serving foie gras, please email us. Restaurants found in violation could face fines of up to $500 per offense.

HAP is committed to using this historic victory as a catalyst for broader farm animal protections across the Commonwealth. Stay informed by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on social media. Join us in the ongoing effort to safeguard the well-being of farm animals.

Pittsburgh Councilman Bruce Kraus and HAP Executive Director Natalie Ahwesh pause for a photo to celebrate passing the ban.

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