Foie gras ban is overturned

Foie gras is back on the menu.

A federal judge issued a ruling Wednesday that overturned California's law banning the sale of the fatty duck or goose liver, a delicacy prized by gourmands for its rich flavor.

The ruling at least briefly reverses what stood as a major victory for animal-welfare advocates trying to stop the common practice of force-feeding birds to enlarge their livers.

U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled that the California ban was unconstitutional because it interfered with an existing federal law that regulates poultry products.

Many in the state's restaurant industry were rejoicing Wednesday shortly after the news was announced.

"I've been jumping up and down for about 90 minutes," said Napa Valley chef Ken Frank, who has been active in the pro-foie gras movement.

Foie gras from force-fed poultry was outlawed in California by a bill that passed the state Legislature in 2004 and went into effect in 2012.

The ban had been challenged in court by the Hot's Restaurant Group in California (which includes Hot's Cantina in Northridge, Four Daughters in Manhattan Beach and Hot's Kitchen in Hermosa Beach); Hudson Valley Foie Gras, a producer in New York; and a group of Canadian foie gras farmers called Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Quebec.

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