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PETA sues California restaurant for violating foie gras ban

Restaurant served dish as a complimentary side

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is taking the California ban on foie gras very seriously. And the animal rights organization proved that it is willing to go to court to keep restaurants compliant.

Yesterday, PETA filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Hot’s Kitchen, claiming the restaurant is violating the state ban on foie gras by offering the “fat liver” delicacy as a complimentary side to its popular “THE Burger” menu item. Foie gras was banned in California in July.

"It's a transparent attempt to evade the law, plain and simple," Jeff Kerr, general counsel for PETA, told Thomson Reuters.

California lawmakers actually passed the ban on foie gras back in 2004, but the law gave restaurants and farmers eight years to implement the new law. Foie gras is controversial because of the way it’s made, which involves force-feeding geese or ducks until their livers become enlarged. Opponents of foie gras believe this method constitutes inhumane treatment of animals.

Hot’s Kitchen was among the many California restaurants opposing the ban, saying in a legal complaint it filed against its passage: “The statute defines 'force feeding' as using a process that causes a bird to 'consume more food than a typical bird of the same species would consume voluntarily. In practice, the vagueness of this purported standard makes it impossible for anyone to know at what point a particular bird has been fed 'more food' than the bird feeding law allows.”

At press time, Hot’s said it had not yet been served with the suit, and a spokeswoman for the restaurant cracked it up to a publicity stunt on PETA’s part. "Publicity stunts such as the filing of an outrageous, baseless lawsuit, followed by the issuance of press releases are nothing more than an attempt to exploit the media by stoking controversial flames and are designed to line the pockets of profiteers," Kelley Coughlan told Thomson Reuters.

Read more InsideCounsel stories about foie gras and other controversial food products:

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ABC News sued for defamation over “pink slime” reports

“Pink slime” controversy continues to rage

AFA Foods files for bankruptcy over “pink slime” controversy

New York mayor moves to ban sugary drinks, California cracks down on foie gras

Beverage industry groups sue to block NYC sugary drink ban

Cleveland judge strikes down law banning trans fats

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Cathleen Flahardy

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