WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2016 – Several activist groups failed this week in a legal action to ban the USDA from inspecting and allowing foie gras to be sold on the commercial market.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, Compassion Over Killing, and Animal Protection and Rescue League sued USDA and the Food Safety Inspection Service, claiming that when farmers make foie gras by force-feeding ducks, the process sickens the birds and produces diseased livers for human consumption.

U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II for the U.S. District Court, Central District of California, on Wednesday issued a summary decision, dismissing the case and ordering the plaintiffs to pay court costs.

“The Animal Legal Defense Fund is disappointed in this outcome, and we are exploring our options going forward,” said Stephen Wells, the group’s executive director. “We see no principled basis for the USDA to treat this diseased organ any differently than it treats other such dangerous products.”

The ALDF and other groups, according to an analysis of court documents by Legal 360, had argued that force-feeding the ducks caused the birds to develop hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease.

“The court is required to credit the agency’s scientific conclusions over plaintiffs’ where, like here, the agency’s reasoning is not totally implausible,” Judge Wright wrote. “Here, there is nothing in the (Poultry Products Inspection Act) or the implementing regulations that renders FSIS’s distinction between causes of hepatic lipidosis unreasonable.”


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