| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES Nov 28 The animal rights group PETA
sued a California restaurant on Wednesday that it says serves
outlawed foie gras to patrons, in what appears to be the first
lawsuit to enforce a state ban on the delicacy, PETA officials
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said that Hot's
Kitchen claimed to have stopped selling foie gras when a ban on
producing or selling it took effect in July, but was offering it
as a complimentary side dish to customers who order "THE
"It's a transparent attempt to evade the law, plain and
simple," said Jeff Kerr, general counsel for PETA. He said the
suit was filed on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The Hermosa Beach restaurant's online menu lists "THE
Burger" as including balsamic thyme onions and whole grain
mustard, and says it is served "with a complimentary side of
Foie gras is the swollen liver of a duck or goose that has
been excessively force fed. It is prized for its flavor and rich
texture, but animal rights groups contend that the force-feeding
process is painful, gruesome and inhumane.
California lawmakers banned the sale or production of foie
gras in 2004 under penalty of a $1,000 fine per sale, per day.
The law gave restaurants and farmers a years-long grace period
that ended July 1 to implement the ban.
Most restaurants removed the item from their menus when the
law took effect. However, some reportedly left foie gras on the
menu after the ban.
In a widely reported act of rebellion, the Presidio Social
Club in San Francisco served foie gras sliders to a crowd as
protesters amassed outside. The owners contended the social club
was not subject to the state law because it was on federal land,
but the restaurant later pulled foie gras from its menu.
Hot's Restaurant Group, of which Hot's Kitchen is a part,
has been at the forefront of a charge to overturn the law, and
sued California in federal court the day after the law went into
effect, calling it unconstitutionally vague.
"The statute defines 'force feeding' as using a process that
causes a bird to 'consume more food than a typical bird of the
same species would consume voluntarily,'" according to the legal
complaint filed by Hot's Restaurant Group and a Canadian
"In practice, the vagueness of this purported standard makes
it impossible for anyone to know at what point a particular bird
has been fed 'more food' than the bird feeding law allows."
The restaurant's spokeswoman, Kelley Coughlan, said the
restaurant had so far not been served with the suit.
"Publicity stunts such as the filing of an outrageous,
baseless lawsuit, followed by the issuance of press releases are
nothing more than an attempt to exploit the media by stoking
controversial flames and are designed to line the pockets of
profiteers," she said.
"Hot's stands by its previous statement that foie gras can
be made humanely, and we continue to provide our customers with
wholesome, humane animal products."
California Attorney General Kamala Harris is defending the
foie gras ban, according to spokeswoman Lydia Gledhill.
Gledhill said she was unaware of any legal action against
purveyors of enlarged bird liver since July, but that the state
wasn't formally tracking the law's enforcement.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)