Olympics Games to serve foie gras to VIP guests despite eco-friendly claims

Olympics Games to serve foie gras to VIP guests despite eco-friendly claims

Organisers of this year’s Olympics Games will be serving VIP guests with foie gras – made by force-feeding ducks and geese – despite promoting the menu as eco-friendly and mostly meat-free.

Thousands of dishes that include the pâté will be offered to guests with premium hospitality packages at the Paris events, which begin on 26 July. Force-feeding birds to make foie gras, which translates as “fatty liver”, is considered so cruel that producing it in the UK is banned, and Labour has promised to ban foie gras imports if it wins the 4 July general election.

Olympics organisers say they aim to “deliver a taste of France in a responsible mannerand claim to be “laser-focused on showcasing French food that is sourced, produced and consumed in a responsible way”.

To try to provide sustainable, environmentally friendly options, 60 per cent of the 13 million meals provided will be meat-free and plant-based.

However, despite promoting “leaf over beef”, and announcing that foie gras will not be offered to athletes in the Olympic Village or general spectators, foie gras will feature on the hospitality menu.

Labour would ban foie gras imports if elected

Labour would ban foie gras imports if elected (Chelsea Ritschel)

The Games’ caterers said: “Foie gras will not be offered as a standalone dish within our culinary program during the Olympic Games.

“However, some recipes may include foie gras as an ingredient, for example in pâtés and local specialties. These dishes will represent approximately 0.1 per cent of our overall menu offerings.”

Tickets for hospitality packages range from 85 euros to over 9,500 euros.

On Location, which is providing food and drink at the Games, is selling tickets for a range of hospitality packages.

Its website boasts of packages that include Champagne, and “an international gourmet menu featuring French regional signature dishes will be offered in the hospitality lounges” and others that “feature international and French regional culinary specialties”.

Millions of ducks and geese each year are forced to consume unnatural quantities of feed until their livers swell to 10 times their natural size.

Each bird is force-fed or “gavaged” two or three times a day for several weeks, up to 63 times, until they are slaughtered.

Animal protection organisation Animal Equality highlighted the way birds are treated in the industry (file image)

Animal protection organisation Animal Equality highlighted the way birds are treated in the industry (file image) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Campaigners are calling for the Olympics to drop foie gras from its menus altogether.

Animal protection organisation Animal Equality, which has investigated the industry, says that birds used for foie gras are confined to wire cages, suffer from breathing difficulties and eye infections, and broken wings and beaks.

University of Cambridge academic Professor Donald Broom, who has studied the “gavage” process, concluded in a 2017 paper: “The results of this report are unequivocal. The practice of force-feeding causes a sharp deterioration in the welfare of the ducks”.

Foie gras production is concentrated in France, Spain and Hungary, but is banned in Denmark, Germany, Poland, Norway and Turkey. In 2022, under Boris Johnson, the Conservatives U-turned on a plan to ban imports, outlined in the then government’s animal welfare action plan.

Abigail Penny, executive director of Animal Equality UK, said: “The Olympics Committee should focus on celebrating our shared international interests: animal cruelty is not one of those interests. I strongly urge the committee to see reason and remove it from the menu.”

Michelin-starred French chef, Alexis Gauthier, who switched foie gras in his top London restaurant, to plant-based “faux gras”, said: “To envisage attendees eating the diseased liver of a tortured duck or goose at the Olympics is jarring, to say the least.

“I am immensely proud of my French heritage, but I am certainly not proud of the force-feeding of innocent animals, and the committee shouldn’t be either.”

The Olympics organising committee did not respond to requests for comment.

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