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French producers attack U.S. decision on foie gras ban

FILE PHOTO: Duck liver foie gras pictured at the poultry pavilion in the Rungis International wholesale food market as buyers prepare for the Christmas holiday season in Rungis, south of Paris, France, November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - French foie gras makers have accused the U.S. Supreme Court of bowing to false claims by vegetarian lobbyists with its refusal to hear an appeal against a California ban on the delicacy produced from force-fed ducks and geese.

The U.S. court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by producers that also included a Canadian non-profit organization that represents duck and goose farmers, clearing the ban on a product that French lawmakers recognized in 2006 as part the European country’s “cultural and gastronomic heritage”.

France is by far the world’s largest foie gras producer with a market share of about 70 percent.

“It is unacceptable that such a decision, taken under the influence of the lobbying of some activists orchestrating regular misinformation on our products to advocate dogmatic vegetarianism, could endanger the image of an emblematic dish of the French art of living,” Michel Fruchet, head of French foie gras producers group Cifog, said in a statement on Tuesday.

French foie gras producers mainly export to Japan, Spain, the Netherlands and the Middle East, but none have been cleared to export to the United States.

Foie gras is made from the livers of geese or ducks that have been fattened with grain by force-feeding.

Sold whole or as a pate, it is considered a gourmet food in Western and Asian cuisine, but production through force-feeding has often been criticized as cruel by animal rights activists.

Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by David Goodman