Foie gras ban causes diplomatic rift

Organisers of the world’s largest food and drink fair are facing a backlash from French politicians and farmers who are threatening to boycott the opening ceremony after foie gras was banned at this year’s fair.

Organisers of the biannual Anuga, held in the western German city of Cologne, have banned the sale or tasting of the French national delicacy foie gras at the October show, citing security problems caused by animal welfare activist at the 2009 show.

“We had some problems in 2009 and we have been talking to French producers for years about excluding it from Anuga. We didn’t expect diplomatic reactions,” a spokesperson for the event was quoted as saying in

Foie gras is made from the livers of force-fed ducks, a process called gavage, which causes the liver to swell up with excess fat. Production of foie gras is banned in the UK and in Germany. French agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire has written to German counterpart Ilse Aigner asking for the ban to be overturned, with French Socialist MP Alain Fauconnier joining producers in lobbying the German ambassador in Paris.

“It is important for the French foie gras sector to be present at a fair visited by numerous buyers in the period before the end of the year celebrations,” Le Maire said in his letter to Ms Aigner. “If this exclusion is confirmed, I cannot see how I will be able to take part in the opening.”

About 12 companies and the farmers that supply them with foie gras – mainly from the southwest of the country – are affected, with the ban restricting the amount of international customers from Asia and southern Europe they are able to reach.

While France has put the most pressure on the German government and organisers, foie gras producers from Belgian, Spain, Bulgaria and Hungary have also been locked out of the fair.

Anuga 2011 will be held in Cologne from 8-11 October.

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