Animal activists score victory against foie gras with major hotel

A campaign to ban foie gras around the world is sizzling up after a major hotel chain's Maui location succumbed to pressure from animal rights groups and pulled the French delicacy off its menu last week.

The Four Seasons Resort in Maui removed foie gras from a posh $350-a-plate dinner slated for May 6, after the Animal Protection & Rescue League (APRL) applied pressure to the hotel.

The first course of the Opus One Wine Dinner was supposed to open with Hudson Valley Foie gras, with aged port wine-mole syrup, organic apple hash and vanilla-honey infused parsnip ice cream.

The four-course dinner event is hosted by Opus One Winery from Napa Valley in California.

Animal rights groups like the APRL have been taking their fight one restaurant and establishment at a time. Celebrity chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Charlie Trotter refrain from putting foie gras on their menu, and major retailers like Whole Foods and Costco have also banned it. It's currently banned in 15 countries.

The removal comes following a proposal to outlaw foie gras in Hawaii last year.

In 2004, then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzengger also enacted a ban at the urging of celebrities like Paul McCartney. To give restaurateurs enough time to phase out the product, the ban goes into effect next summer.

Foie gras is created by force-feeding ducks and geese through feeding tubes in order to create a fatty liver 10 times its normal size. Animal activists say the vast amounts of feed pumped down the ducks' throats causes enormous internal pressure that can be painful. They also claim the tube can puncture the esophagus, causing many to die from choking on the blood that fills their lungs.

Proponents, meanwhile, say the animals lead pampered lives and are given high-quality feed. They also point out that ducks have no gag reflex and that their esophagi have a tough lining, allowing them to swallow fish and other prey painlessly. The American Veterinary Medical Association has refused to take a stance on foie gras.

In 2006, the city of Chicago also exiled foie gras on the grounds of animal cruelty but the ban was short-lived. In 2008, after restaurateurs and residents alike openly flouted the law and lashed out, the city repealed it. Many complained the city was micromanaging and shouldn't decide what individuals can and cannot eat.