A ban on the sale of foie gras in California has been overturned by a federal judge, allowing the state’s restaurants to once again feature the dish on their menus.
In a court ruling on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson permanently blocked California Attorney General Kamala Harris from imposing the foie gras ban, which took effect in California in 2012 under a bill passed in the state legislature in 2004. The judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional as it contradicted an existing federal law regulating poultry products, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“California cannot regulate foie gras products' ingredients by creatively phrasing its law in terms of the manner in which those ingredients were produced,” Wilson wrote in the court ruling.
The foie gras ban was challenged by a lawsuit filed against Harris by the Hot’s Restaurant Group in California; Hudson Valley, a foie gras producer in New York; and a group of Canadian foie gras farmers.
Chefs across the state cheered the return of foie gras, stating that they would start serving the delicacy, which is considered to be a symbol of traditional French cuisine, at dinner.
“I've been waiting over two years for this. Before the ban, foie gras was the most popular item on our menu, and I expect it will be again starting tonight,” Ken Frank, a chef at the restaurant, La Toque, in the city of Napa, told The Huffington Post.
Meanwhile, animal rights groups that wanted the ban to prevail criticized the court order, calling it miscarriage of justice.
“Foie gras production involves cruelty to animals that would warrant felony charges were dogs or cats the victims,” Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary, an American animal protection organization, told The Associated Press. “The idea that a ban on egregious cruelty on farms could be pre-empted by a law that applies exclusively to slaughterhouse operations and meat safety and labeling is exactly as ludicrous as it sounds.”