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Leading animal welfare groups unite to tell Fortnum & Mason to end Foie Gras sales

Groups Speak for Overwhelming Majority of British People and Millions of Members in Opposition to Sales of Product Illegal to Produce in Britain

London - Animal protection groups - including  FOUR PAWS,  the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), Compassion in World Farming, Animal Defenders International, Animal Aid, Viva!, One Kind, Save Me and the International Veterinary Information Society - have, today, joined PETA's call for Fortnum & Mason to end its sale of vile foie gras. In a letter sent to the store's new managing director, Ewan Venters, the groups voiced the opposition of their millions of supporters to the barbaric force-feeding of geese and refuted the store's preposterous claim that less than 1 per cent of the population are opposed to foie gras sales. In fact, a 2007 poll conducted by Ipsos MORI and commissioned by the RSPCA, showed that 63 per cent of the public support a ban on the sale of foie gras in the UK and the number is now believed to be even higher.

Angelique Davies Head of Programmes at FOUR PAWS says: " In the 21st century it is outrageous that companies such as Fortnum and Mason continue to sell this product just for the pursuit of profit. The barbaric production method of foie gras has been banned in many countries around the world and would not be permitted on a farm in the UK. British consumers have sent a clear message that that they don't want this cruelly produced product on their shelves."

Angelique continued: "The force feeding of birds is clearly cruelty to animals, the production of foie gras involves force feeding ducks and geese until their livers become grossly enlarged. The practice causes appalling suffering and has been widely condemned by experts. The EU's Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Welfare (SCAHAW) concluded in 1998 that "force feeding, as currently practised, is detrimental to the welfare of the birds", whilst the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated in 2002 that the production of fatty liver for foie gras "raises serious animal welfare issues and it is not a practice that is condoned by FAO."

Birds raised for foie gras are force-fed huge amounts of grain three or four times every day via a metal pipe that is rammed down their throats. The birds' livers swell to up to 10 times their normal size, resulting in a disease known as "hepatic steatosis". Their breathing can become laboured as their engorged livers press against their lungs, and they often experience difficulty walking, grooming and even drinking.

Leading animal protection organisations recently met with members of the European Parliament in Brussels to call for an EU ban on the force-feeding of birds for foie gras production, which is already banned in the UK. It is allowed in just five European countries - including France - which is why Fortnum & Mason shamefully pays French farmers to force-feed geese on its behalf before importing their diseased livers back into the UK to sell in its Piccadilly store.