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The Globe and Mail

No more foie gras for Britain’s House of Lords

Britain's House of Lords has made a public New Year's resolution: no more foie gras.

The restaurant that caters to the upper chamber of Parliament will no longer be serving the rich dish, made from the engorged livers of ducks or geese, starting in 2013 after complaints from animal rights supporters.

The decision comes during a time of year when foie gras typically appears on more menus as an indulgent ingredient – one that's often associated with special occasions.

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But on Dec. 13, Britain's minister of agriculture David Heath declared during a parliamentary debate on animal welfare: "What I would say, and I am expressing a personal view here, is that people shouldn't buy foie gras because of the method of production."

Of course, members of the House of Lords, currently on recess until January, can still choose to eat foie gras – they just won't find it on the menu at their Barry Room restaurant.

Already, foie gras is no longer on the menu in the House of Commons restaurant.

PETA's associate director, Mimi Bekhechi, is quoted in The Guardian: "We are delighted that the House of Lords will join the House of Commons in taking a stand against animal cruelty and removing this most un-British of products from its menus."

Most foie gras is produced by force-feeding the birds, a process known as gavage. In Europe, five international associations on animal protection have lodged complaints to the European Commission (the executive body of the European Union) on its practice – particularly in France.

Since July, the production and sale of foie gras has been banned in the state of California.

While no less a controversial menu item in Canada – Québécois celebrity chef Martin Picard was asked by the National Capital Commission to remove foie gras from the Winterlude festival menu in January, 2011 – it remains a regional point of pride.

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On Prince William and Kate Middleton's visit to Ottawa in July, they attended a cooking workshop and reception at the Quebec Tourism and Hotel Institute where the menu included Quebec foie gras on brioche with apple cider jelly.

And to be sure, there are some Quebec farmers who practice more ethical feeding methods.

But back to the House of Lords. The Telegraph reported last May that members were "embarrassed" about the quality of the food and complained about tough pork and foul smoked salmon. The upscale cafeteria receives a state subsidy of £1.44-million ($1.88-million) in 2011.

The same article mentioned that "a terrine of foie gras with toasted brioche, amaretto jelly and a tomato and thyme dressing" costs £7.50 at the Barry Room.

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