French schools ban foie gras Christmas lunches

Local authorities in several areas of France have banned the traditional serving of foie gras in school canteens over Christmas.

Foie gras - fattened duck liver - will not be served in some school cantines in France over Christmas.
Foie gras - fattened duck liver - will not be served in some school cantines in France over Christmas. (Photo by GEORGES GOBET / AFP)

Many French schools have foie gras on the Christmas lunch menu. It is dished up in a variety of ways – either as a stuffing or as a spread. 

But three towns (Grenoble, Strasbourg and Villeurbanne) governed by the Green party have banned the product in school canteens and for official town-hall functions. The move comes after years of pressure from the animal rights group, PETA.

READ ALSO Do French kids get the best school lunches in the world?

Sandra Krief, a city councillor in Grenoble for the Parti Animaliste who also campaigned for the ban, tweeted that the production of foie gras was “one of the worst practices or ‘traditions’ as far as animal cruelty is concerned.”

“Foie gras is a shameful French tradition that should be abolished like bullfighting,” she continued. 

READ ALSO Meet the French Animal Party candidate running for president

France makes about two thirds of the world’s foie gras, produced by force-feeding ducks or geese until the develop the distinct ‘fatty liver’.

In an interview on Sud Radio, Marie-Pierre Pé, director of France’s Inter-professional Committee of Foie Gras makers hit back, saying the ban was “scandalous”. 

“Anyone who goes to meet producers understands that the fattening comes towards the end of the animal’s life. It totally respects the life of birds, which are there to produce this famous foie gras that the whole world is jealous of,” she said. 

“There is more and more attention being paid towards the wellbeing of the animals.” 

READ MORE French mayor’s foie gras ban prompts fury from farmers

PETA is now campaigning to have foie gras scrapped from menu at official town hall functions in other cities, including Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Montpellier. 

The French delicacy has been under attack around the world for years.  The EU parliament called on member states to ban the practice of force feeding this summer – and has banned the product from official events in the Strasbourg parliament building. In the United States, California has banned the sale of foie gras produced with force feeding. The British government plans to do the same. 

Michelin-starred chef, Alexis Gauthier, has a potential solution that could reconcile animal rights activists and foie gras lovers: Faux gras – a plant based alternative. You can read the recipe HERE or watch the tutorial

READ MORE Lab-grown ‘foie gras’ cannot use product name, says French food producers group

Member comments

  1. Ms Pe says ‘the whole world is jealous of foie gras’. Not quite true since India, Australia, Israel, UK , Argentina, and Brazil have all banned its importation and many others its production. Animal cruelty is nothing to shout about.

    1. Another British tourist sticking his nose into our way of life. If you don’t want to eat it, that’s your choice but don’t tell other people, that enjoy eating it, not to.👿

        1. Who is talking about being libertarian. I’m saying keep your nose out of my countries affairs. My friends and I will keep eating foie gras for as long as we want. It’s a great shame your little island banned hunting with dogs. What’s it going for next. fly-fishing.😮

          1. Considering the best is produced on small farms, I very much doubt a blanket EU ban is going to have much of an effect.

      1. Boggy, stop taking CAP subsidies and you can have all the free choice you want. But as long as I am paying taxes to keep this ugly practice going then I get a say. In any case, if you read the article you’d know it is other French who are opposing this and other French who are saying that these (French people) have no right to do so. Marie-Pierre Pé said it clearly: she thinks it is scandalous that others get to have a choice in any decision to buy damaged duck liver. In essence she wants to force feed it down students throats. The irony of that no doubt escapes her.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Let them eat bread: the origins of the French baguette

More than six billion baguettes are baked each year in France and UNESCO has now inscribed the tradition in its “intangible cultural heritage” list.

Let them eat bread: the origins of the French baguette

The French baguette – one of the country’s most abiding images – was given world heritage status by UNESCO on Wednesday, the organisation announced.

READ ALSO French baguette gets UNESCO world heritage status

Here are some of the more popular theories:

Napoleon’s Bread of War
The oldest tale has the baguette being kneaded by bakers in Napoleon’s army. Less bulky than a traditional loaf, the long slim shape of the baguette made it faster to bake in brick ovens hastily erected on the battlefield.

France’s most famous man of war was preoccupied with getting his men their daily bread.

During his Russian campaign in 1812, he toured the ovens daily to sample the day’s offering and ensure the crusty batons were being distributed regularly, according to historian Philippe de Segur.

He also had portable bread mills sent to occupied Moscow, but the setbacks suffered by the Grande Armee in one of the deadliest military campaigns in history ended his bid to export the doughy staple.

Viennese connection
Another theory has the baguette starting out in a Viennese bakery in central Paris in the late 1830s.

Artillery officer and entrepreneur August Zang brought Austria’s culinary savoir-faire to Paris in the form of the oval-shaped bread that were standard in his country at the time.

According to the Compagnonnage des boulangers et des patissiers, the French bakers’ network, Zang decided to make the loaves longer to make them easier for the city’s breadwomen to pluck from the big carts they pushed through the city’s streets.

Breaking bread
Another theory has the baguette being born at the same time as the metro for the 1900 Paris Exposition.

People from across France came to work on the underground and fights would often break out on site between labourers armed with knives, which they used to slice big round loaves of bread for lunch.

According to the history site, to avoid bloodshed, one engineer had the idea of ordering longer loaves that could be broken by hand.

Early rising
In 1919, a new law aimed to improve the lives of bakers by banning them from working from 10 pm to 4 am.

The reform gave them less time to prepare the traditional sourdough loaf for the morning, marked the widespread transition to what was called at the
time the yeast-based “flute”, which rose faster and was out of the oven in under half an hour.

Standardised at 80 centimeters (30 inches) and 250 grams (eight ounces) with a fixed price until 1986, the baguette was initially the mainstay of wealthy metropolitans, but after World War II became the emblem of all French people.