French Foreign Trade Minister Pierre Lellouche on Wednesday told German ambassador Reinhard Schafers that his government should order Anuga fair to drop the ban in the name of European law on the free circulation of goods.
And Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire is threatening to boycott the fair’s opening, dubbing the measure “unacceptable” and “unjustified” in a letter to his German counterpart, Ilse Aigner.
Foie gras production and sale is responsible for 35,000 jobs in France, according to Lellouche, while Le Maire claimed that the industry “rigorously” applies European law on animal welfare.
Anuga organisers say that they have not banned foie gras, just decided that the fair is “not a platform” for the product. They point out that several European countries, including Germany, ban its production.
The decision was taken two years ago, they add.
Furious foie gras producers believe the move was taken because of pressure from animal rights activists. They claim that the product, obtained by gavage - feeding birds large quantities of grain so that their livers swell to an abnormal size - is part of France’s heritage, a claim endorsed by French law since 2006.
Germany, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Poland, Ireland, Italy, the UK, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic have banned the production of foie gras but not its sale, as have Israel, Argentina and some US states.
French foie gras producers are anxious to show off their product at Anuga, which claims to be the “world´s leading food fair for the retail trade and the food service and catering market”, and takes place just two months before the Christmas and New Year festivities.
The president of their national federation, Philippe Baron, believes that the move is a vegetarian plot.
“Today it is foie gras, tomorrow it will be something else, because in any case these people are against all animal products,” he says.
And the leader of the rural values party, Chasse, Pêche, Nature et Tradition, blamed “anti-gavage extremists”.