Animal welfare activists released a video last week that claimed to show the inside of a foie gras farm that supplies Ramsay’s kitchens, which led the chef to suspend his chain's supplier, pending further investigation.
The video, said to be shot in France, showed many rows of ducks in apparently ill states of health. One duck could be seen vomiting, while another had its head slumped forwards and was barely breathing. The majority of the other ducks, meanwhile, could be seen panting in their small cages while a person fed them with a pipe, which was forced down their throats.
However, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) has welcomed Ramsay’s decision to suspend the supplier, while investigations were carried out. “However, we hope that they will cease sourcing traditional foie gras altogether, as this barbaric product should have no place in fine dining,” the charity said.
“The RSPCA believes that the sale of traditionally-produced foie gras should be banned and no restaurateur or retailer should have this product on offer to its customers.”
A Gordon Ramsay spokesperson said: “As soon as we were made aware of these allegations we immediately suspended purchasing from this supplier and have launched an investigation.”
Of the video, the RSCPA said it was shocked at the conditions the ducks were subjected to, but added that there was no “ethically acceptable way to produce traditional foie gras”.
Further to its comments on the video, the RSPCA pointed out that foie gras farming was illegal in the UK, stating that the practice contravened animal welfare regulations, “but it is still legal to import and sell and serve foie gras”.
So controversial is the production of foie gras among animal rights campaigners that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been focusing its activity on the department store Fortnum & Mason. On more than one occasion PETA has demanded that the store stop sales of foie gras.
Producing foie gras involves force-feeding ducks or geese, which results in their livers enlarging to around 10 times their normal size. “Foie gras production seriously compromises bird welfare – causing unnecessary and unavoidable suffering,” the RSPCA said.
“Like ours, birds’ throats are particularly sensitive and perform a gag-reflex, which is stimulated by force-feeding. The birds’ throats can be torn or split. Force-feeding impairs its function, causing liver disease, and this unnatural expansion of the liver can cause the birds’ legs to be pushed outwards, severely impairing their ability to stand.”