Why Foie Gras Is Still Being Served In NYC Despite Legal Battle

On a menu, foie gras denotes a decadent, delicacy known the world over. While the French term might sound more appetizing than "fat liver," the controversial luxury food is getting a reprieve in New York City. While The New York Times reported that a 2019 New York City Council vote banned foie gras starting in November 2022, it appears that diners will have another chance to indulge in the dish, which is cultivated by force feeding ducks or geese.

At the time of the Local Law 202's passing, 1,000 NYC restaurants had the controversial ingredient on their menus. Even though many other cities, states, and countries have banned the food due to animal cruelty concerns (per Animal Equality), there is another impact on the food industry. By eliminating the ability to purchase this particular dish, the farmers who cultivate the animal liver will see a significant impact to their bottom line — which has led to a lawsuit against NYC's law. The NY Post reported that, "(t)he farms will be forced to lay off hundreds of workers if the ban goes into effect." Although both sides of the table have their reasons for their stance, foie gras has not disappeared in NYC, yet, but the time might be coming. 

How much longer can NYC restaurants serve foie gras?

While the delicate china may be ready in many New York City restaurants, diners are wondering how much longer the unctuous foie gras will be available in the city. According to Food and Wine, pending litigation has given the fatty liver a stay of execution in the form of an injunction. As New York farmers battle the pending law in court, the controversial ingredient can remain on restaurants' menus. Although the litigation will eventually reach a verdict, Marcus Henley, vice president of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, commented, "While the State's injunction offers a glimmer of hope to the hundreds of people employed by the farms and the community, we are still very much focused on the legal battle ahead of us."

The current legal challenge attacks the constitutionality of NYC's pending law. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that the law asserts, "unreasonably restrict farm operations located within an agricultural district" per Times Union. Putting aside the method of making foie gras, farmers are concerned over government interference in their business. Even though the dish is divisive, farmers argue that the right to free commerce is a protected legal concept. As the litigation works its way through the courts, for now, NYC diners will have the option to enjoy foie gras.