Fortnum & Mason’s shame exposed: Selling foie gras is indefensible

Despite other iconic British food shops halting their sale of foie gras which is cruel and barbaric, Fortnum & Mason continue to peddle this “torture in a tin”.

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Animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have campaigned for more than two years to convince Fortnum & Mason to stop selling the vile product foie gras.

Last summer, I teamed up with two of my West End stage-mates, Peter Egan and Carley Stenson, for a PETA protest outside the Piccadilly retailer. Banding together behind a banner that resembled a stage curtain and read, “Fortnum & Mason: Bring the Final Curtain Down on Foie Gras”, we urged consumers to steer clear of the department store until it agrees to remove foie gras from its shelves and menus permanently.

I’m very proud to be among a growing list of British celebrities – including Twiggy, Joanna Lumley, Sir Roger Moore, Bill Oddie, Ricky Gervais, Dame Vera Lynn and others – demanding that Fortnum & Mason stop profiting from the abuse of innocent animals. But public outrage and celebrity support hasn’t yet convinced F&M that there is no excuse to sell a product that is too disgusting to be produced in the UK.

Even though People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have given Fortnum & Mason a wealth of scientific and expert evidence that foie gras production is cruel, the retailer continues to peddle this “torture in a tin”.

New distressing video footage that PETA filmed on foie gras farms that PETA claim supply F&M’s distributor Georges Bruck reveals the suffering that goes into every tin.

"Geese raised for foie gras spend the last two weeks of their lives in cramped, filthy, barren pens"

Geese raised for foie gras spend the last two weeks of their lives in cramped, filthy, barren pens. The floors on which they are forced to stand 24 hours a day are made of metal grating, through which the birds’ urine and faeces fall, and are never cleaned. PETA’s investigator documented frightened geese trying desperately to escape as a farm worker forced food down their throats. Huge amounts of grain are pumped into their stomachs. Their distended livers can swell to 10 times their normal size, pressing against their lungs and causing them to pant constantly.

Some birds were so desperately ill that they could no longer stand, but they were nevertheless still grabbed and force-fed.

In a statement on Fortnum & Mason’s Official Facebook page, F&M is denying that any of the footage PETA shot was captured at any farm supplying Fortnum & Mason . PETA has shown Ewan Venters, F&M’s new managing director, the footage and appealed to him to end the company’s sale of foie gras in light of the obvious cruelty. I believe that a product that is illegal to produce here in the UK should be illegal to sell. Foie gras has no place on British store shelves or menus, let alone in a shop that trades so blatantly on its British heritage.

"I believe that a product that is illegal to produce here in the UK should be illegal to sell."

Other iconic British shops with food halls, such as Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, have listened to their costumers and realise that selling foie gras is a faux pas. F&M states in its Corporate Social Responsibility document, “We will ensure that everything we do is to exemplary standards of conduct … and morally defensible”.

Foie gras is morally indefensible. F&M’s continued sales of the barbaric product are in my view immoral, and I urge all compassionate Britons to object with their wallets and boycott the shop until it disassociates itself from the torture of innocent animals. 

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