Animal rights campaigners challenge pub owner: ‘We think foie gras is cruel, you don’t – let’s have a debate’

The Bricklayers Arms in Flaunden
The Bricklayers Arms in Flaunden

The animal rights campaigners who will protest outside of a country pub that sells foie gras on Saturday have challenged its owner to a debate about the controversial delicacy.

Owner of the Bricklayer’s Arms in Flaunden Alvin Michaels yesterday said the cruelty of foie gras production is debatable and he would not be ‘blackmailed’ into taking it off the menu

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He said that whether it is served or not should be down to supply and the demands of his customers, who he has served for the past 11 years.

Hertfordshire Animal Rights campaigners think otherwise and will protest outside of the pub at 6.15pm on Saturday, where they will hand out leaflets to diners and hold placards

Spokesman Tod Bradbury said: “The evidence for force-feeding causing unnecessary suffering to the birds involved in this industry is very clear.

“Scientific reports conducted by independent academics have concluded that force-feeding causes a range of conditions, such as perforations to the oesophagus and liver failure.

“Mr Michaels also comments on ducks and geese ‘naturally consuming large quantities of food’. Whilst it is true that at certain times of the year ducks in particular may consume more food than usual, they would then go on to fast for a period of three days or longer.

“Thus, force-feeding will feed the birds beyond the point of satisfaction – resulting in gastric problems.”

A 1998 European Scientific study held that the production of foie gras causes unnecessary suffering the birds involved in the industry. Making foie gras in the UK has been illegal ever since.

The report showed that force-feeding results in an array of horrific conditions, from perforated oesophaguses to liver disease.

Mr Bradbury said: “As well as the horrific force-feeding involved – undercover investigations have shown that the animals on foie gras farms are either cramped into tiny cages where they can’t even spread their wings or they are packed into tiny sheds with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of other individuals where they can barely move.

“They have no access to what would be a natural environment – no access to water and have no freedom to fly as they naturally would.

“Mr Michaels has made a number of other inaccurate comments. Firstly, there are no supermarkets in the country that will sell foie gras.

“Secondly, the Bricklayers Arms is in a minority of restaurants that continue to purvey foie gras. Top restaurants such as Raymond Blanc’s chain refuse to sell the dish – scores of other restaurants throughout the country refuse to sell foie gras also.

“It is because of these reasons that we are formally challenging the Bricklayers Arms to a public debate on this matter.”

Hertfordshire Animal Rights says it will continue to lawfully campaign against the Bricklayers Arms and all other purveyors of foie gras until Hertfordshire is foie gras free.

Ben Williamson, from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), also today spoke out against the Bricklayer’s Arms.

He said: “If Alvin Michaels’ attitude was the norm, we’d still have the slave trade and children would be dying of respiratory infections from working in coal mines.

“There are few things more gratuitous today than cruelly force-feeding geese and ducks for a fleeting taste of a diseased liver.

“Contrary to Mr Michaels’ claims, avian experts, veterinarian groups and animal protection organisations from the UK and around the world are united in their condemnation of foie gras.

“After an in-depth study of foie gras production, the EU’s Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (SCAHAW) concluded that: ‘Force feeding, as currently practised, is detrimental to the welfare of the birds,’ and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations stated that the production of ‘fatty liver’ for foie gras ‘is not a practice that is condoned by FAO’.

“Foie gras production – which involves forcing a pipe down a bird’s throat three to four times a day every day for several weeks until his liver swells to up to 10 times its normal size – is so grotesque that it is illegal in Britain.

“The Bricklayers Arms should join the growing number of restaurants as well as almost every major department store in the UK, including Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser, and all major supermarkets by ridding its menu of this product of torture.”