"[T]here is good evidence that liver structure and function…is severely altered and compromised in force fed ducks and geese. [The Committee] on Animal Health and Animal Welfare concludes that force feeding, as currently practised, is detrimental to the welfare of the birds."
Europe's Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare
"If one looks at the production of foie gras for what it really is—causing a healthy liver to become diseased by forced overfeeding—then eating it could leave a whole different taste in your mouth."
Dr. Greg Burkett, DVM, board-certified avian specialist
"This overfeeding will lead to liver enlargement and malfunction, causing chronic metabolic dysfunction and illness. The ducks at this facility, therefore, are being subjected to extremely inhumane conditions causing them to suffer greatly."
Dr. Nedim C. Buyukmihci, VMD, emeritus professor of veterinary medicine, University of California
"It is well-documented that the process of force-feeding these birds inflicts suffering in the form of traumatic injuries to their esophaguses and stomachs as well as severely diseased fatty livers."
Dr. Armaiti May, DVM, CVA
"Most egregious is the fact that the animals are force fed to create the fatty liver constitutive of foie gras. Many people do not realize that veterinary medicine recognizes 'fatty liver' as a pathological condition, i.e. a disease."
Dr. Bernard Rollin, PhD, distinguished professor of animal sciences, Colorado State University
"[T]he process of force feeding birds in order to deliberately induce a disease state is patently inhumane, causing severe physical pain and psychological distress."
Dr. Lee Schrader, DVM
"In my opinion, [force-feeding] is cruel and inhumane, as it involves rough, invasive handling and can result in trauma and injuries to the esophagus. The process overrides the natural system of hunger and satiety and the birds in the video appear to be frightened and distressed—they move immediately away from the handler as soon as they are released."
Dr. Sara Shields, PhD, animal welfare expert with an emphasis in poultry
"The practice of force feeding amounts of food far beyond the limits of the duck's need to eat causes pain and suffering. Ducks are highly capable of feeling pain especially in the throat area. They have a gag reflex that would be overcome by the tube insertion, and this would cause distress in the bird."
Dr. Debra Teachout, DVM, MVSc
"Force-feeding in the foie gras industry is inherently cruel. … This feeding beyond what the ducks would eat normally causes hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver, which impairs liver function. Severe liver impairment can lead to conditions like enlargement of the liver, fluid in the abdomen and eventually death."
Dr. Lorelei Wakefield, VMD
"Through [the] painful force-feeding process, birds have as much as 3 pounds of food pumped into their small bodies every day—in human terms that's roughly 45 pounds of pasta—until they develop a disease that causes their livers to enlarge up to 10 times their normal size."
Sir Roger Moore
"Foie gras is sold as an expensive 'delicacy' in some restaurants and shops, but no one pays a higher price for foie gras than the ducks and geese who are abused and killed to make it. This is a terrifying and painful process for the birds, who have no semblance of a normal life and know that several times a day a tube will be rammed down their throats."
"Foie-gras is duck that is force fed in a sickening cruel process and is banned in the UK."
"There is clearly nothing humane about mechanically inducing disease in a bird by forcing a pipe down its throat and making it consume such an abnormal quantity of food that its liver expands many times its normal size."
Sir Paul McCartney
"Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible…this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible."
Pope Benedict XVI
The following countries, and the state of California, have banned the practice of force-feeding animals to produce foie gras.
Ducks are friendly, social animals, who like to spend time in groups of other ducks called paddlings. In the wild, ducks spend their days looking for food, and swimming or bathing in lakes or ponds. Ducks are very clean animals, who enjoy preening their feathers, and they always keep their nests free of waste and debris. At night, ducks prefer to sleep together in paddlings for safety and comfort. In nature, ducks can live up to ten years.
On factory farms, ducks are deprived of nearly everything that is natural to them. They are kept in dark, windowless sheds and denied access to water for swimming or bathing. Forced to live in their own waste, ducks can become stressed and frustrated in filthy and cramped factory farm warehouses. Although ducks can live up to ten years in the wild, those who are killed for foie gras are slaughtered before they reach their first birthday.
Ducks are incredibly good swimmers and flyers. Although many duck species can travel hundreds of miles each year during their migrations, Moulard ducks used for foie gras are a cross between Pekin and Muscovy ducks—neither of which is migratory. Instead of gorging themselves prior to migration, Pekin and Muscovy ducks stay in the same areas for their entire lives and consume the same amount of food year-round.
On factory farms, ducks who are raised for foie gras have metal pipes shoved down their throats three times a day and are force-fed an unnatural amount of food. This process causes the birds to become obese and their livers to become diseased and swollen up to ten times their normal size. The force-feeding process can also cause severe injuries to the birds' stomachs and esophaguses. As a result, many ducks die from force-feeding.
Ducks have their own unique vocalizations and body language to communicate with each other. Scientists have even discovered that ducks have regional accents. For example, city ducks tend to have louder, "shouting" quacks, while country ducks usually have softer, smoother voices. Ducks tend to be monogamous and form very deep bonds with their friends and families. Mother ducks are known for being especially caring and nurturing toward their ducklings.
Ducks on factory farms never get to meet their mothers. From the time they hatch to the time they are killed, ducks used for foie gras are kept in barren, windowless sheds. Since the livers of female ducks are considered too "veiny" for foie gras, the females are often killed immediately after birth, frequently by being tossed into trash bags and suffocated. Hudson Valley Foie Gras claims to have found a "humane" way to dispose of unwanted female ducks: they wait until the females reach adult size and then slit their throats.
The best way for individual consumers to help end this cruelty is to leave animals off their plate entirely.